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UNLV Game Notes from former USC TE Scott Huber

UNLV Game Notes from former USC TE Scott Huber

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There alway seems to be a debate after every USC football game about whether or not the Trojans deserve a heavy dose of praise or criticism from the media.

Instead of furthering that debate, usc247.com is looking to end it. We caught up with former USC football tight end (and longtime football coach) Scott Huber for his takes on USC’s game against UNLV.

Huber jotted down 10 pages of notes about the game and we interviewed him for 23 minutes. Here’s what we came up with.

Huber's takes on the offense

“It looked like early on our receivers had a little bit of trouble, besides the main target there (Amon-Ra St. Brown), had a little bit of trouble getting open early.”

“The offensive line looked good in pass protection, not so good in run blocking early on.”

“The QB early on, because he’s a freshman, so he’s going to look anxious, he was a little bit anxious in the pocket. So he was actually getting rid of the ball before he needed to. His protection was pretty solid. He was getting rid of the ball before receivers were getting open and before he was going through all his reads. You would totally expect from a new freshman quarterback.”

“We looked bad in the run the first two quarters. It opened up as the game went on but if UNLV had our depth, we would have taken an L in that game. But they don’t have our depth. That’s part of it, that’s part of being at SC, teams don’t have as many good players as we have.”

“As far as the front in the first two quarters, we weren’t winning in the run game. #77 (Chris Brown) is really bad. He got better as the game went on, I don’t know if he’s a young guy or what but he missed multiple linebackers running through in the run game. He was the reason we were not making yards on a lot of plays. He was bouncing off his own linemen, I think he went the wrong way a couple of times. He looked flustered and kind of confused early on in the game and was missing a lot of pressures. Then again, I’m not in the huddle calling the offense. It’s totally possible that he could have been doing the right thing and everyone else was doing something wrong, but I doubt it.”

“Lack of physicality upfront on both sides of the ball. It really showed up in the red zone early in the game. We looked better later in the game but I don’t like to use that necessarily as a measure because UNLV, after they kind of burned through their front guys, it’s going to happen But early on in the game and the first three quarters, the lack of physicality on offense in the red zone really showed. When you get in the red zone, the defense has the ability to compress and you have to be able to run the ball. And we weren’t able to run the ball, that’s why we had to kick so many field goals. That was a problem.”

“Stephen Carr is a stud, if he can stay healthy. (Aca’Cedric Ware) did a good job and he’s solid. You know when Stephen Carr is your other back, you need to have another back. He’s just not very healthy. Even when we coached against him when he was at Summit, I was at Lawndale coaching and we played in the playoffs. In the first quarter, he had one run that was just special. He breaks the corner and turns on the jets and he’s just faster than everyone else. You could see flashes of that in this game. But I feel like, they’re running three running backs. And from my experience, not all running backs are like this, but when you only get one carry a series, it’s really hard to get in a rhythm. I’d love to see Stephen Carr getting the ball on every other carry. I think he needs that. I think if he can stay healthy and get more carries, he’s special. I think the other guys could be good and do their job. At SC, that’s not what we’re looking for. At SC, people want national championships and Rose Bowl championships. I think Stephen Carr is that type of player but he needs to get the ball more. Obviously the training staff and the coaching staff probably understand his level of ability better than I do and maybe they’re giving him the ball as many times as he can handle it. But I think he needs the ball more. He’s special, you could even see it in a couple carries that he broke. He’s pretty special.”

“The left side of the offensive line is not very good. Someone got beat for pass protection multiple times, multiple run throughs, linebackers not picked up, all on the left side.”

“On the other end, that center (Brett Neilon), I know he’s young. And Todd (Huber’s brother who played football for Cal and works with Student Sports) had a lot of experience with him at the Opening and at those camps and stuff. That kid could be an All-American. He’s a stud. He’s really good.” 

“We’re talking about all this stuff and I don’t want to sound negative, there’s not a lot of positive about their performance going forward. But I am super positive that we have a quarterback, who   defintiely has some young guy flaws that will hurt him this season. He will take his lumps. But he’s really good. He reminds kind of like when you saw Josh Rosen for the first time playing as a freshman. He made some mistakes, he stares down receivers too long. But God, he’s got a quick release and he’s just on the mark. he’s just calm, cool and he looks like a pro. JT Daniels kind of had that. The center, who’s also a (redshirt) freshman, which is awesome, is I think, his counterpart at center. He’s really good. Obviously Amon-Ra St. Brown is special as well. So you have three brand new guys who I would be surprised if they didn’t finish as All-Americans. They’re really good.”

“The quarterback, I think he’s going to be really special. The only problems he had in the game, I think he’s so used to playing with St. Brown that he started targeting him too much. I think obviously the familiarity in high school, and that’s what he did in high school, he targeted him all the time and he went up and caught the ball. In college he’s not going to be able to do that. So over taxing his safety valve of sorts, getting rid of the ball before he needs to and he really had issue, you can watch him. He just stares at his receiver the whole way, the one he’s going to throw to. Every young quarterback does that but that will get him in trouble against better teams.”

“Tight ends, number 82 (Tyler Petite) is solid. He’s a really good edge blocker on the perimeter. Whether he’s on the line or at wide receiver, a lot of the big runs we had were really him. It was him doing a really great job in perimeter blocking, which is one of the hardest things to do in football. 84 (Erik Krommenhoek) I don’t think is very good. I don’t know who he is but I just don’t think he’s very good.”

“Obviously at the end of the third quarter, things started to click, I think UNLV started to wear down. We started to run the ball more and things broke open and we hit them with the deep ball a couple times. That’s positive, you know?”

“Not finishing in the red zone is going to kill us against better teams. Against UNLV, in the red zone, we should be able to hand the ball off three times and score a touchdown.  We shouldn’t have to get tricky and it seemed at times we were having to throw, which is disheartening.”

“I think the combo of the quarterback to St. Brown is going to be a combo that’s going to be really awesome and come in handy down the stretch. When he needs a completion I think it’s going to be really great.”

“Number 77 (Chris Brown), I wrote down multiple times that he was struggling.”

“Neilon, I wrote is very good. Plays low pads. Is super quick snap to step. Which is, where they snap to step so he gets on defenders really quick so it’s really impressive.”

“Pass pro was solid. I think he was only sacked twice the whole game. So pass pro we’re looking good. But someone is going to be able to figure out how to pressure us and we have to run the ball. the run game on both sides of the ball I think were the issue. That just makes me anxious. I mean, you would rather beat the worst team in the world than lose to the best team because you win, but it just makes me anxious for Stanford. I think Texas lost but Texas was able to run the ball on us last year as well. I thought we were better against the run last year than we are right now.”

“It looked like UNLV, I don’t know the reason, if this was scheme or what, but it looked like early on, the first three quarters of the game, this obviously changed in the fourth quarter, obviously we didn’t have anybody UNLV felt could stretch the field on them. Because UNLV was playing back and keeping everything in front of them. Daniels was having to make a lot of short to intermidiate throws. What that forced us to do was have long sustained drives. That might have been their game planning because with a freshman quarterback, that’s hard to do. So we weren’t going to score in two or three or four plays. It was going to be 10 or 15 plays. And they were making sure of that by playing everything deep and keeping everything in front of them. They did a really good job of that early in the game and obviously later in the game when we started breaking runs, they had to bring men in the box. Then we were able to beat them deep. Early on, we didn’t really have a deep threat that looked super impressive.”

Huber's takes on the Defense

“35 (Cam Smith) is unbelievable. Our linebacker should be a Butkus Award candidate just off this game. He read every screen. He was the catalyst of almost all the defensive plays I noticed. He was either spilling someone outside so someone else could make the tackle, or making the tackle himself, pressuring the quarterback himself, reading the screen himself. Batting down balls himself, he was all over the place. He was really great.”

“All the linebackers flow really great. The only problem our linebackers were having is our d-line is pretty weak at the point of attack. At least in the first couple of quarters, UNLV, the linemen were getting underneath the d-linemen’s pads pretty good. And we were losing at the point of attack with our defensive linemen.” 

“7, 45 and 35 on the defense, if they weren’t on the defense, I think we’re kind of average on defense as is, but without those three guys, we would be a bad defense.” 

“(Smith and Gustin) are really good and they kind of do everything and they move them around a lot, which is really smart. They pursue, they get pressure off the edge.” 

“The rest of the d-line, even though we have a lot of them, none were very good. My major concern, this is UNLV. Now UNLV isn’t as bad as UNLV used to be. UNLV used to be really bad. They have some players. Their quarterback is really good, their running back is really good. They’re getting better. But it’s still UNLV. And they still handed us our lunch quite a bit concerning because Stanford is going to be 10 times better than they are and that’s what Stanford does. So I’m a little concerned for next week.”

“The defensive linemen, you could call it one of a couple things. Either getting squeezed down or over pursuing and it was allowing them to break big runs. Our defensive linemen were just getting blocked down on and instead of fighting pressure, we were just getting washed down and creating these huge gaps. So they were either over pursuing or getting washed down. It allowed for these big runs on these counter plays where they cut back.”

“Marvell Tell is good, the rest of the secondary is average. We were not bigger, stronger, faster than these receivers. Which is interesting. I don’t know if that’s because of injuries or whatnot but we did not look that good in the secondary.”

“We had really bad tackling across the board on defense. There’s so many huge runs that shouldn’t have happened. I’m sure they know that.”

“It seemed like throughout most of the game, the first three quarters, it was flashes of really positive things, and then bone head or blown coverages, lost contain on that big touchdown run. #31 (Hunter Echols) was playing on the line, he had contain and he totally allowed himself to get washed down and they just cut outside and that was the big touchdown run.”

“We lost contain on multiple plays. The fake punt was super sloppy. You have to see that stuff from UNLV because UNLV, the only way they’re going to beat you is with that sort of stuff.”

Huber's takes on Special Teams

“Special teams play, I thought unfortunately, that fake punt was a big blow. But you can always put that on the whole special teams. Special teams as a whole outside that, I mean all of our points were really field goals for a stretch so they really kept us in the game. The kickoff guy looked good, he was getting it in the end zone. So they didn’t get a lot of chances for returns. Special teamers, at least from what I was seeing, were playing with really good energy, despite a lower level. From my experience, even if it’s the first game, it’s different getting up for UNLV than it is for an opponent like Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama or Texas. It’s hard to do and not everyone can get up for it. So usually it shows on special teams. i think the special teams coach did a pretty good job keeping these guys playing with a lot of energy, making sure we’re solid in the kicking game. It’s really hard to do on special teams. I think people take it for granted but we see how bad special teams hurt some teamsand we did a good job besides that fake punt.”

Huber's other thoughts

“Overall I think UNLV is not bad but they shouldn’t have been in the game with us. Just from my experience, a Pete Carroll, or even a Lane Kiffin team, this would have been a blowout. So I don’t know what’s going on. But there are defintely some good things that came out of this.

“I think the one positive thing is Clay Helton doesn’t panic. Some coaches, I mean when I was playing for Paul Hackett, we would play a team like this, a team we were supposed to blow out and we weren’t blowing them out. He would start panicking, turn all red and get all frustrated. And the team feeds off that. That’s something Clay Helton doesn’t do. So he’s able to keep his kids in it and solid and working. That’s what you need for success in the long run.”

“If we want to be a Rose Bowl team, we should be beating UNLV by 50 in the first half. That’s what Alabama does. That’s what we want to be, right? We want to be Alabama. We want to be as good as them. Alabama doesn’t tie with UNLV at the half unless something horrible happened.”

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