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Charles Brown and the Limitations of Fair Play

Offensive linemen hold. It's a fact of the game. Offensive linemen and cornerbacks hold. A well executed hold by an offensive lineman keeps the defender close and the evidence of the hold in the small horizontal window between players. Officials don't call what they can't see, and the less certain they are, the less likely they are to flag. A good hold can be nasty, but it can't be flagrant. A good offensive linemen locks down a defender in a way that should not be possible. An offensive lineman can square a defender, can block him out or push him back, but locking down, immobilizing them, usually requires a subtle cheat. The margin of error for offensive linemen and cornerbacks is small. Get caught grabbing jersey or hooking an arm, and that player is scrutinized, disarmed and likely to be flagged again. That's how we get Marcus Trufant's 2009.

Brown pushes. He has good power. He moves extremely well, and generates rare quickness off the snap. Brown does not lock down the defender. He does not show that ability to get in and hold a player without drawing a flag. I wonder if that is something Alex Gibbs could teach. It is a prerequisite for professional success.

1. 1st and 10 at USC 12 Joe McKnight rush for 9 yards to the USC 21.

Notre Dame plays out the drive in a 4-3 over. Brown shows great quickness out of the blocks, fires into the second level and jolts middle linebacker Brian Smith. This should be the beginning of a highlight worthy play, but Brown loses Smith and Smith fights himself back into the action.

2. 2nd and 1 at USC 21 Joe McKnight rush for 2 yards to the USC 23 for a 1ST down.

Brown gets into and moves out right defensive end John Ryan. McKnight runs right.

3. 1st and 10 at USC 23 Matt Barkley pass complete to Anthony McCoy for 35 yards to the NDame 42 for a 1ST down.

The right defensive end bubbles right. Brown stays square with him. The end drops into cover. The misdirection is designed to pull Brown wide and create a gap between him and the left guard. The right outside linebacker is supposed to attack Brown's inside shoulder, but lacks the quickness, and rushes into a well positioned left tackle. Brown combines with Stanley Havili to punish the linebacker and double team him hard into the pile.

Matt Barkley adjusts his pocket, slides left behind Brown and Havili's dominant block and steps into a long, high strike to McCoy.

4. 1st and 10 at ND 42 Matt Barkley pass complete to Damian Williams for 22 yards to the NDame 20 for a 1ST down.

Brown shades and contains Ryan with ease.

5. 1st and 10 at ND 20 Matt Barkley pass complete to Damian Williams for 20 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

USC sets 2WR (right), 2TE (left), RB. The outside receiver motions in to create a bunch. Brown pushes Ryan, but then loses him inside. Ryan pressures but Barkley fires in the face of oncoming pass rush and hits Williams for the score. Brown does not lack power, but he does lack a little dirtbag technique.