Jordan Hill is only human. Like millions of other Americans, he can’t help but marvel at the things USC tailback Reggie Bush does on a football field.
"That’s what the film sessions are for," Arizona State’s starting defensive tackle said. "You get all the jaw-dropping over with so when you get into the game you don’t get caught stargazing."
It sounds good in theory. But even if the Sun Devils enter Saturday’s game with No. 1 USC focused on Bush, and not his aura, they will still have to stop the guy that Devils defensive coordinator Bill Miller ranks above every other player in college football.
Bush had 267 all-purpose yards in USC’s 45-13 road win Saturday at No. 24 Oregon, earning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The All-American rushed 20 times for 122 yards, had three receptions for 43 yards, returned three kickoffs 75 yards and had four punt returns for 27 yards.
He also scored two touchdowns, one on a 19-yard reception, the other on an 11-yard run in which he reversed field, a la Marcus Allen, after reaching the left sideline, and outstreaked the defense to the right pylon.
It was Bush’s second 100-yard rushing game of 2005, and he’s currently third nationally in all-purpose running (212 yards), tied for seventh in scoring (12 ppg) and 18th in rushing (111 yards).
"If he isn’t the best in the country, I’m not sure who is," Miller said. "We’ll have to know where he is on every play."
Which means every player on the Devils’ defense likely will be tested. In USC’s offense, Bush lines up all over the field — in the backfield, in the slot and out wide — not to mention his duties as a kickoff and punt returner.
"They try to get him in mismatches where he can make plays," Hill said. "I remember watching films of him last year where he lined up in the backfield then came out and ran a streak where a linebacker had to adjust and try to cover him.
"There was no way that was going to happen."
Few who come away from watching Bush can speak of him in anything but superlatives.
"Reggie is a human highlight film," said ABC play-byplay man Keith Jackson, who will have the call for Saturday’s game. "He has the ability to do things without having to think about it. That’s the difference with great athletes. I don’t know anybody who can do more things than he can."
Hill thinks Bush is most dangerous when he gets outside.
"You hate to see him in the open field," he said, "especially if you’re the only guy out there in one-on-one space with him, because he’s so big and quick and explosive."
But Miller thinks the 6-foot, 200-pound Bush is equally dangerous between the tackles.
"He’s a great cutback runner," Miller said. "Reggie Bush is great in a phone booth and Reggie Bush is great out on the highway."
Which leaves the Devils in a quandary as to how to defend him.
"The biggest thing," Hill said. "is to get a lot of guys flying around and pursuing to the ball. That way, if one guy misses, there’s another there to stop him."
Linebacker Jamar Williams, this week’s Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week, took it one step further.
"I think the biggest thing is you need to hit the guy," Williams said. "So far, I haven’t seen a lot of teams do a good job of putting 11 hats on the ball. He does have a tendency to fumble the ball if you put some hats on him."
Again, that’s easier said than done with the elusive Bush.
On one seemingly symbolic play in Saturday’s win over the Ducks, Bush, who is averaging 10.6 yards on his 60 touches this year, not only ran out of several tackles, he ran right out of his shoe.
"Reggie Bush is one of those players that come along every so often," ASU coach Dirk Koetter said. "He’s one of those guys who could probably start at five positions — tailback, wideout, corner, safety and kick returner — for any team in the country."
Compounding ASU’s challenge is the nature of USC’s offense.
"They’re spreading the ball around," Koetter said. "We’ve got to worry about more guys than just Reggie Bush because USC can hurt you in a lot of ways." So, how to stop Bush? Miller shrugged then held his thumb and index finger a hair apart.
"There’s going to be about this much margin for error and we’re going to have to be close to perfect to stay in this ballgame," he said.
Jackson, however, did have one suggestion.
"I’d let the air out of his bus tires or airplane tires," he said. "Try to keep him out of town."