Matt Leinart and Maurice Jones-Drew dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss numerous topics, including the USC/UCLA rivalry, Jared Goff and Dak Prescott.
Leinart, who won the Heisman Trophy at USC, and Jones-Drew, who starred at UCLA, will watch their alma maters square off Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET. No. 20 USC is 6-3, while UCLA is 3-6.
In this game, however, records don’t matter.
“When you see the history and you see the pride and everything that goes into that game and how bad those teams want to beat each other and then to be a part of it, (it’s incredible),” Leinart said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “UCLA recruited me really hard. Ultimately, I just felt more comfortable and thought UCLA was a better fit. But it was so fun to be a part of. It was just an awesome experience to play in those games.”
“What’s funny is we actually played Matt Leinart in high school my sophomore year (when he was a senior),” Jones-Drew said. “I think that’s what made it interesting to me. A lot of guys from the Bay Area always come down to L.A. to play either at USC or UCLA, and also being at De La Salle, playing teams from L.A., you have that rivalry going on. So when I got to UCLA, obviously as a freshman you don’t know how serious it is, but once you step on the field and you see all the guys you played in the all-star games with or guys that you grew up with or friends, that just intensifies it. I had a cousin that went to SC, and she would have to pick sides – literally. She had a jersey that had my number on the front but USC cut on the back. So it definitely divides families and things like that, but that’s what makes it great.”
Leinart, who is from Santa Ana, and Jones-Drew, who is from Oakland, weighed in another California native, Jared Goff, who, despite being the No. 1 pick in the draft – and despite sharing a meeting room with Case Keenum, who has nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season – has not played a down in the NFL yet.
“Well, he has the arm strength, and he has the arm talent and he’s a smart kid,” Jones-Drew said. “We have to remember he’s never called a play in the huddle, so how can he command the huddle? That’s something you have to learn and understand. His whole career, this is the first time he’s taken a snap under center. He’s usually taken it out of shotgun. So I think there is a learning curve that Jared has to go through and he’s going through that, but Jeff Fisher is doing the right thing by not forcing him out there. You hear so many people say, ‘You just got to go out there and see what he has.’ Well, they’ve had him since May. They know what he has. They want to make sure they fine-tune everything around him so that he can go out there and make plays. We’ve seen him make throw after throw in the preseason; they just want to make sure that they protect him and that he knows what he’s doing.”
Leinart, meanwhile, weighed in on the quarterback quandary – or lack thereof – facing the Dallas Cowboys.
“Honestly, I think it’s simple,” Leinart said. “(Dak Prescott has) been phenomenal. He’s consistent, and unlike Jared Goff, he’s got a great situation. He’s got the best offensive line in football, he’s got a great back, he’s got the defense playing better. Football is a game of momentum. There’s a temperature in the locker room. You got to go with the guy that’s winning games, that’s running this offense. As good as Tony Romo has been – and I’ve always been a supporter of Tony Romo. I think he’s a great player, borderline Hall of Fame type of guy. But Dak Prescott is the future. Dak Prescott is winning games. In that league, all that matters is wins and losses, and he’s winning games and he’s playing well. I’ve been really, really impressed with him.”