What It Feels Like To Lay Someone Out

Sept. 15, 2003

During USC's 23-0 dismantling of Auburn on Aug. 30, CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Todd Blackledge gushed for much of the game about the overwhelming performance of USC's defense. And why not? Seemingly on every series -- sometimes on back-to-back plays -- Trojan defenders were coming up with video game-like hits. Hits that begged for replays. That was the kind of hit junior safety Jason Leach put on Auburn wide receiver Courtney Taylor in the second-half of USC's shutout. Running a post down the middle of the field, Taylor made a play for the ball over his head at the same time Leach made a play for Taylor. Taylor went down, but his helmet shot through the air and the play ran on ESPN's highlights all night long. Below, Jason Leach talks about the play and what it feels like to lay someone out.....

'It's not so much satisfaction. It's more of setting a tone for the game. It's so receivers know that when they come across the middle looking for the ball - deep post, over route, whatever - just expect to get hit and not being able to get off lightly ...

'I don't sit there and consciously think about making a big hit. But if I see the ball before I see him and I'm able to get the ball, I'll get the ball. But if it's like 50-50, I'm going to hit him before I get the ball ...

'I didn't start playing football until the eighth grade. I got tired of playing soccer. I couldn't hit any body. My mom finally let me play football. After not being able to hit anybody, it was real fun ...

'I'm not going to hit you in your legs or try to take your knees out and ruin your season. I'm going to hit you up top where you have pads. If you fall down and get yourself knocked out, that's on you. But I'm not going to try to end your career by taking your knees out ...

'My whole thing is, I'm trying not to let him catch the ball. I'm going full speed. He falls down, I fall down, whatever. As long as he doesn't catch the ball, I really don't care.(on the play)

'I was cheating a little to (Courtney Taylor's) side. There was one receiver on the other side that ran an out. I saw the post and the quarterback (Jason Campbell) looked and I kind of baited him and he threw it and I hit him. I was just waiting for him to start moving his arm to throw. (Campbell) was running pretty well and I was waiting to see if he was going to run or pass. He threw it and I hit the guy.

'I saw the ball. He jumped for it. I wasn't sure if he could catch it, but he jumped and I was like, whatever, I'll hit him anyway.

'I didn't see the helmet come off until after I turned around and walked over it. I didn't know it came off. I just hit him and he fell on me. My main concern was that he not catch the ball. It was just a neat part of the play.

'He jumped in the air. I'm not sure why. I hit him and he just landed on my back. It doesn't usually happen that way. Usually he falls or I fall. It was kind of weird.

'I just had to readjust my chin strap, but other than that, I was fine.'

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