Thursday, January 05, 2006

Oh The V-Insanity
By Ben Valentine

A title normally reserved for New Jersey Nets small forward Vince Carter has a new owner tonight, Texas Longhorns quarterback Vince Young. How to describe his performance in the national championship game? Simply amazing, jaw dropping, eye popping and yes insane, or if you will, crazy. Crazy good. So crazy that I have to admit I was wrong.

Young is the best player in college football, hands down.

As good as Reggie Bush is, there’s no way he could have an impact on a game like Young did against USC. 269 yards passing, 200 yards rushing. Three touchdowns, including the game winner coming with 19 seconds to go. Oh and for good measure, he also ran in the two point conversion attempt to give Texas the 41-38 lead. 469 yards of total offense…three touchdowns. In a national championship game. Stats like that one expects to see in a video game, not in real life, not against a team that hasn’t lost in three years.

It doesn’t matter that USC’s defense wasn’t the greatest in the country. Young was simply dominant. There was little the Trojans could do to stop him. They couldn’t even contain him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player completely dominate a game like he did. He is the single reason Texas won that game. I’ll say it again. He’s the best player in college football and he should have won the Heisman. But I think he’ll settle for the National Championship.

That being said, ESPN commentator Lee Corso is way off base with his belief Young should be the number one pick in the draft. But wait, after I gushed about him being better than Reggie Bush and saying he gave one of the most dominating performances of all time, how can I disagree with Corso’s assessment?

Simple, Vince Young is nowhere near ready for the NFL. Want evidence? Exhibit A: Alex Smith.

They make for a great comparison. Smith is a big, tall QB, much like Young, who is exceptionally fast and has an adequate but not overly powerful arm. And like Young, Smith ran exclusively out of the shotgun spread offense. This offense is a gimmicky style one; it is an exclusively college offense. You can’t run the spread consistently in the NFL because the defenses are just too fast.

Young took exactly one snap from under center tonight. That was a kneel down at the end of the first half. In the NFL, Young will not be lining up in the gun every play. Heck, he’ll be lucky if he sees it a third of the plays. Much like Smith, one would expect this to have a serious effect on Young’s transition to the next level. One might even speculate that like Smith, Young could have fumble issues next season. Imagine what it’s going to be like when that big fast defensive end comes around off the end unblocked and hits him on the blind side. That doesn’t happen to Young much because he’s in the gun. It will happen in the NFL.

The speed and shiftiness he possesses is something to behold. But in the NFL, there are guys just as fast. Michael Vick is certainly faster than Young. I’ve seen him get run down by John Abraham, a defensive end. Things like that don’t happen in college. They do in the NFL.

Does this mean I don’t believe Young can translate his game to the next level? Nope, not at all. I firmly believe the Texas QB can be a truly special NFL player with his size and quickness. But he must spend at least a year on the bench, preferably two. I’ve said this before and I believe it even more firmly now. The toughest adjustment for a rookie in the NFL is the speed of the game. It will kill the kid’s career if he’s put in a starting role in his rookie season, whether or not he comes out this year or not. Another year of college football will not help the adjustment. There is no substitution for seeing and learning the NFL game in the NFL, even if it is on the sidelines. In fact, that’s the best place to start for a quarterback. See Carson Palmer, Chad Pennington and Tom Brady for some recent examples.

If Young did come out this year, the best case scenario would probably be for him to end up on a team like Tennessee, where he would probably learn behind Steve McNair. While that team is bad, it will have the patience to nurse him along slowly. The Texans, Saints or even the Jets, will want to throw him to the wolves quickly. Mark my words, that will destroy his career.

But for now, Young can hang his hat on the fact he’s literally at the top of the college football world. Tonight and this season, there was no one better.

Other National Championship Thoughts…

-Reggie Bush could well be a special player in the NFL. He has speed and you just can’t teach that. But I have a feeling this game will throw a monkey wrench into the idea it was a slam dunk Bush goes #1, for a couple of reasons. First, this game showed a fast team could slow Bush down. In the NFL, that’s exactly what he’s going to see; lots of fast players who can hit hard. His shiftiness in college turns the eight yard run into an 80 yard one. But in the NFL, behind a line like Houston’s his shiftiness maybe only good at turning a one yard gain into a 3 yard one… or worse if he decides to retreat on his cut backs.

Secondly, there is no bigger name in the state of Texas right now than the aforementioned Mr. Young. If he came out, there would be a lot of pressure to take the local hero with that first pick. Unfortunately for Young, this would most likely result in him being placed behind that awful line, since David Carr’s option would most likely not be picked up. Can you say “Happy Feet” and “Bust”?

To repeat, the Houston Texans have to trade this pick. They could get king’s ransom for it with Bush in this draft alone. Now add in Leinart and potentially Young as well? With the right moves, the team could get three or four impact players this April, rather than just one, at a position they already have an adequate player in (Dominick Davis or Carr)

-The biggest question for me with Matt Leinart is his arm. He passed for a 365 yards but it seemed like a ton of those yards came after the catch. Two specific ones I remember was the dump off to Bush which went for 35 yards before the back foolishly tried to lateral it and a dump off to his fullback which went for about 25 more. They also seemingly ran a lot of WR screens to Dwayne Jarrett. Leinart’s deep ball wasn’t very impressive, as he hung one up there that got intercepted in the first half and tossed another terrible throw on a deep sideline pattern which was nearly picked off.

I think Leinart will be a good NFL QB. But I have my doubts as to whether he’ll be great. I just haven’t been overly impressed in the games I’ve seen him in.

-Outside of Young, if there was another player who made himself a lot of money tonight it was LenDale White. The other part of USC’s rushing tandem had a great night on the ground; 123 yards on 20 carries and 3 TDs! He consistently ran over Texas defenders and picked up yards after contact. He’s only a junior, so he could stay in for another year. But if he runs a good 40 time at the combine, I’d say he’s a first round pick. In that case, it makes little sense for him not to jump for the pros.

-I heard someone on the broadcast tonight, I forget who, call Pete Carroll one of the coaching greats. Wait… Wha?? Pete Carroll? The same guy who got run out of town after one year with the Jets in favor of Rich Kotite? The same guy who got fired after three unsuccessful years up in New England? Look, I know what he’s done in the pros shouldn’t affect his college resume but I have a problem anointing a guy who’s failed twice in the pros like Carroll has one of the greatest college coaches of all time… especially when he’s had the Heisman winner on each of his national championship teams.

-Mack Brown’s not a big time coach huh? Well I guess it shows what someone can do when they don’t have Chris Simms at QB in a big game.


Blogger David Arnott said...

Pete Carroll is not an all time great coach, as his NFL experience showed. He is, however, like Steve Spurrier, one of the all time great recruiters. If that makes him an all time great college coach, then so be it. Genius? Nah.

4:36 AM  
Anonymous Lloyd said...

As a Texans fan, i really hope they don't draft Reggie Bush. For a start, there's already Domanick Davis, who has averaged 4.1ypc in three years behind what has always been an awful offensive line - running back is hardly a position of need. Secondly, the Texans can probably get two first-round picks (from the Jets if they get the Chiefs' pick for Herm Edwards?) and a couple mid-round picks for the first overall pick, which should allow us to get D'Brickashaw Ferguson, aswell as another few impact players. The Texans could easily be a .500 team next year with only a couple of sensible moves, but something tells me they'll take Bush..

8:20 AM  

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