Can we say "PASSION"? That was exactly what the Card defensive
backs played with against the "Men of Troy" last week! The DBs played
a very physical game against USC's huge receivers, never giving up and fighting
to the end. You had to love the goal-line stand in the second quarter when on
fourth down, #22 Bo McNally and #2 Nick Sanchez stuffed Trojan RB Chancey
Washington before he could cross the goal line. McNally (and his hair) led the
defensive backs with 10 tackles including six solos.
"Oskie" is back! (An "Oskie" = an interception for all
you "Thunder Chickens" out there!). All day, QB John David Booty had
trouble adjusting to the secondary due to Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer's
Base 4-3 defense and its shifts. This defense is designed to disguise the
formation and coverages by showing the opposing QB the same alignment every
play, and then moving to another before the snap of the ball. This allows the
formation to move from a 4-3 to a 5-2 and the coverages to shift from
"zone" to "man", making it hard for a QB to read the
"D" before the snap. The Cardinal DBs confused Booty, who threw four
interceptions in the second half, one to each Stanford starter. We were sparked
by SS #23 Austin Yancy's third quarter oskie, taking Booty's pass 31 yards to
the house. This play shifted the momentum and was the psychological lift the
Cardinal desperately needed. Later in the third quarter, Sanchez's interception
came from the defense aligning in Cover 2 and then playing Cover 3. This tricked
Booty as he threw the deep ball right to Sanchez. In the fourth, with 3:00
minutes left, Booty threw an errant pass right to #6, cornerback Wopamo Osaisai.
Booty thought we were playing zone but we were in man coverage and Osaisai took
the ball 18 yards to set up the game-winning drive.
And the grand finale of the day? McNally grabbing the ball out of the sky to
secure the Cardinal win. I guess Booty finally lived up to his name on Saturday,
"BOO-DIE"! Sure, we did have some mental mistakes this week. But don't
worry because these can definitely be worked out. Every big play that USC had
was on a blown coverage due to a mental error. On one play, the DB (#6) decided to
play man coverage while the rest of the defense played zone, leaving his part of
the field uncovered. This play produced 30+ yards and placed the Trojans on our
one-yard-line. Opps! In the fourth quarter, two DBs (#22 & #2) accidentally collided into
one another while in man coverage. This play generated a 47-yard touchdown pass.
Even when McNally intercepted the ball to seal the win he should have just
knocked the ball down and ended the drive because it was fourth down. Maybe he
didn't want to be the only DB without an oskie! All in all, it was a great game
for the Cardinal secondary, but there is always room for improvement! The only
question now is which DBs will show up this week against TCU?
About the Author: Eliel Swinton (LSJU '97), aka "Coach
E", is the founder of Carpe Diem Sports Academy (www.cpdsportsacademy.com),
a CA-based program designed to change our communities by empowering our youth
and families with leadership and life skills, nutrition, and athletic training.
The Cardinal's "Most Outstanding Freshman" in 1993, Swinton started at
all four secondary positions that year and went on to start a total of 30 games
for the Cardinal from 1993-96 including the 1995 Liberty Bowl and the 1996 Sun
Bowl at strong safety. This earned him the All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention honor as
a senior in 1996, when he served as one of the team's tri-captains along with
Josh Madsen and Brad "Bad Boy" Badger. Swinton later went on to
co-star in MTV's hit 1999 football movie Varsity Blues as RB Wendell
Brown. Questions or suggestions? Email him at email@example.com
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