Many months back, I started championing Charles Brown as a potential candidate for starting left tackle in 2010. Covering Tim Ruskell meant keeping tabs on USC. Ruskell preferred pro ready talent: Players with both the tools and skills to play right away. No glaring deficiencies. Sometimes he sacrificed upside, and sometimes he failed mitigating downside. For the most part, the plan worked pretty well. Ruskell picks, if nothing else, started.
Brown could probably start. Ruskell could have drafted him and had another plug and play player. I sense that Pete Carroll is less interested in success rate, and more interested in potential. What is Brown's potential? It seems like everyone wants to project his tools towards infinity and answer "unlimited". I don't see that. I don't see the tools, the skills or the attitude. And I am starting to think Carroll would rather not revisit Brown.
Pencil in Jeff Byers.
1. 1st and 10 at USC 22 Matt Barkley pass incomplete, broken up by Harrison Smith.
Right defensive end John Ryan cuts in and attempts to penetrate the "C" gap. Brown hits him, stands him up and plants him on the turf.
2. 2nd and 10 at USC 22 Allen Bradford rush for 3 yards to the USC 25.
Brown pulls hard right, and this allows Ethan Johnson to flank him. It's an in-between assignment, in which Brown should either ignore Johnson and assume Bradford will outrun him right (he will), or engage Johnson and abandon his given assignment. Brown does not fully do either, but starts right, adjusts to stop Johnson, and fails. Neither player factors further.
3. 3rd and 7 at USC 25 Matt Barkley rush for 1 yard to the USC 26.
Brown and Byers stuff the Irish right side towards the middle. It works, at first. The defensive tackle attempts an improvised stunt, or a late arriving stunt, and wraps around the short edge and free around Brown. Byers peels off and engages. Blindside pressure is neutralized.
(Notre Dame ties it 7-7.)
1. 1st and 10 at USC 14 Joe McKnight rush for 2 yards to the USC 16.
Brown shoots into the second level and shows his footwork and agility by pulling hard right from left tackle to the weakside linebacker on the opposite side. It's a glancing but sufficient block that does not factor. McKnight is way too picky, and whatever hole (holes) he had, have collapsed before he can exploit them.
2. 2nd and 8 at USC 16 Matt Barkley pass incomplete.
Barkley throws a nice pass, but it's dropped. Brown engages, pushes and neutralizes.
Brown stays inside and controls. There's a lot of ways to hide a left tackle. Aligning a tight end left is perhaps the most common. USC commonly aligned a tight end left.
4. 1st and 10 at USC 33 Matt Barkley pass incomplete.
Brown stays in and delivers a good block. He has not one, but two tight ends on his side.
5. 2nd and 10 at USC 33 Joe McKnight rush for 25 yards to the NDame 42 for a 1ST down.
Brown fires out on a sweep left. He moves into the second level with such speed, he doesn't have anyone to block. He stops, searches and chooses to engage defensive end Ryan, but it looks superfluous to the max. The right decision probably would have been to cut upfield and attempt to block down the sideline for McKnight. Once he has an edge on the outside, it should be game over for the plodding Irish defense, but it's not, and McKnight is squeezed out after 25.
This isn't a bad play for Brown. He probably did what was assigned. However, he did not contribute when he probably could have.
6. 1st and 10 at ND 42 Allen Bradford rush for 8 yards to the NDame 34.
Run right, Brown loses Johnson, but neither player factors.
7. 2nd and 2 at ND 34 Allen Bradford rush for 23 yards to the NDame 11 for a 1ST down.
This is a nice run. NFL-like. Brown and Byers dominate the right defensive tackle and tear out the middle of the Dame defense. Byers continues the block and Brown moves forward and hits linebacker Manti Te'o. Bradford is powering through the interior, and sheds some Irish on a rumbling, dominant run for 23.
Brown blocks in and then adjusts to hold the edge. Quick pass.
9. 2nd and 10 at ND 11 Allen Bradford rush for 5 yards to the NDame 6.
Bad snap recognition betrays Brown, and Kerry Neal is around him and in the backfield in a flash. Luckily for Brown, Neal does not have a second act, and Bradford is able to exploit the over-pursuit and break left. Brown is able to recover enough to put a hit on Neal before the play is over, but best said: Brown fails his assignment, but does not factor.
Brown concludes the drive with another steady interior block, this time protected with a tight end. In 13 plays in two drives, USC aligns a tight end left nine times. That does not confirm a lack of confidence. It does protect Brown against consistently fighting the edge rush. Brown blocked in much more often than he mirrored out.