By Tuesday, most of the intelligence had been incorporated and game plans formulated, and McKay could sense what he wanted as he toyed at his desk with little models of football players. Offensively, a heavy burden was to be put on the quarterback (Sogge was to start over the injured Page). More plays would be called at the line of scrimmage—audibles—in hope of seeing and immediately exploiting a weakness. When caught in double pass coverage on a given side, Texas would face a run to that side. Single coverage, a pass. On some of these plays, like 93-T-Swing, the idea was to catch the Texas ends retreating for pass coverage and get O. J. Simpson loose in a one-on-one situation. McKay thinks there are not many players who can hold O.J. one-on-one. "Listen, you want to know how good O.J. is?" he said before practice one day. "He's bigger than Gale Sayers. And faster. I don't exactly know what out-quick means, but he'll out-quick you, too."
Defensively, McKay planned to move his rover back to the weakness of the offense instead of the strength—to the split-end side instead of the blocking side. Texas basically uses a split-end attack. McKay's three-fold object was to reduce Bradley's effectiveness on the option play—preferably to make him keep the ball instead of giving it to Gilbert—shut off the cut plays back inside by Gilbert and pile up the power sweep. He was not overly awed by Bradley's passing ability.
The first few days were not good ones. McKay, at heart, is an assistant coach. He likes to get down in there with the players the way Bear Bryant used to do and really coach. He hasn't missed a practice in 18 years. Unfortunately, he demonstrated too many skills to remain an assistant forever, but he still gets down there with them when the time is right. He says of himself that he probably does more field coaching than the average head coach. He scorns the use of his new lookout tower. He will go up to the first level (20 feet), but he says any higher than that (30 feet) and he is subject to vertigo. His sharp eyes are everywhere, and when it is necessary his mouth is, too: "If they double-team you, you gotta get it to him right now, the hell with anybody else...Dave, I want you to try to impress that boy that 12 yards is two more than 10, see? Twelve is two more than 10.... This is a passing attack, baby, get the ball out there.... Damn, sometimes you have to hit a guy with a ball bat just to get him to pay attention."
On Tuesday and Wednesday the defense and, at times, the offense seemed confused. At one point after repeated instruction had failed, McKay went into the line and grabbed a defensive player by the back of his shoulder pads and forcefully leaned him into the right position. He ordered the middle guard off the field. "Just get off the damn field. You're not showing me a thing as a football player." Finally he gave up and sent the defense in early and, after watching the offense run the same play five times without managing to get it right, he sent them in, too.
The street lamps were casting the shadow of the statue of Tommy Trojan onto the wall of the administration building and the crickets were in concert when McKay headed for his car to go home on Wednesday night. Actually, he said, it was earlier than usual to be leaving during the week, but there wasn't much sense prolonging the agony. "Got two kids hurt in five minutes because they didn't seem to know what the hell they were doing. I figured they'd been out there long enough anyhow and there's no use practicing when you're going that bad."
He had not talked to the players specifically about getting ready for Texas. He said it was not his policy, that the season has too many peaks for that and with a schedule as tough as USC's you could not concentrate too heavily on one opponent.
"I feel, too, as a head coach, if you continually talk to the team it becomes a matter of oh, dear God, what's he going to say now. Same thing, over and over. I'm not one to talk to the team all the time. It's like I tell Corky about the children. I'm going to tell them what I expect, and they're going to do it or all hell will break loose. I'm not going to be on them continually. If you keep telling them over and over, don't do this, don't do that, they wind up giving you that blank stare and that closed ear."
The McKays live in a handsome, rustic brown-shingled house, three bedrooms, a large den with a fireplace and a collection of footballs, trophies, pictures and a big color-TV-stereo console. There are five TV sets in the McKay house. He has a handsome pool in the backyard, built as a promise fulfilled to his kids when USC won the national championship in 1962.
"Home early," said Corky McKay at the side door. "Earliest you've been in two weeks."
"Wasn't much we could do."