RENTON, Wash. -- When Reggie Bush got his chance to face Pete Carroll in the NFC playoffs two seasons ago, he couldn't wait. It was the opportunity to show off before his former college coach when injuries in the New Orleans backfield left Bush as the featured back.
Then Bush carried the ball just five times and was left watching Carroll celebrate the Seahawks' upset victory of the then-defending Super Bowl champs.
Sunday will be Bush's first chance at getting even when Miami hosts Carroll's Seahawks.
"We had a lot of games together and played a lot of football. It's always great to go against our old guys, and nothing different than this one," Carroll said. "We'll try and tackle the heck out of him if we can corral him, but he is a very special football player and it still shows.”
Bush and Carroll will always be linked for their time at USC when the Trojans were the most dominant team in college football. Bush was the speeding blur that couldn't be stopped and Carroll the buzzing leader on the sideline.
They'll also be forever linked by the subsequent NCAA probe into improper gifts Bush's family received during his time playing at USC, and the eventual decision Bush made to return his 2005 Heisman Trophy.
Since Carroll returned to the NFL before the start of the 2010 season, the contact between the two has been limited. The Seahawks played New Orleans twice during the 2010 season -- Bush missed the regular-season game -- and this will be the first time the pair will face off since that playoff game best remembered for the running of Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and not anything Bush did.
"I'm looking for getting a win. That's what I'm looking forward to," Bush said. I'm not so much worried about who's on the other side of the field.”
Bush is being used in a far different manner than the last time Carroll schemed against his former star. When the Seahawks prepared to face the Saints in the playoffs, they saw formations specifically designed to get Bush available in open space, trying to get him in as many one-on-one situations with linebackers and safeties as possible.
With the Dolphins, Bush has been the featured back, being asked to use his speed on the perimeter but also to run between the tackles. Bush's season started strongly, but in the last three weeks he has a combined 24 carries for 82 yards during the Dolphins' three-game losing streak.
"Everybody is staying upbeat. Guys know we still have a lot of football to play and we're not out of this thing yet," Bush said. "I haven't seen anybody falling off the map. Everybody has been pretty upbeat.”
Carroll believes Bush has matured as a runner, no longer just rushing as fast as he can to the line of scrimmage, but displaying more patience for running lanes to open up.
"Reggie has really found his tempo coming to the line of scrimmage and seeing things and using his quickness and darting and using his quickness into open spaces. He looks like a more mature runner now," Carroll said. "He used to run it up in there as fast as he could and hit it hard and it wasn't to his advantage all the time in his career, but he's really on it now.”
This might not be the best week for Bush and the Dolphins' struggling run game to try and get restarted. Seattle is third in the NFL in total defense and 10th in run defense, giving up just 100.6 yards per game on the ground. Only San Francisco, with Frank Gore, and Minnesota, with Adrian Peterson, have been able to top 100 yards rushing as a team against the Seahawks this season.
And Seattle will have back versatile outside linebacker K.J. Wright after he missed most of the last two games with a concussion.
"Defensively they bring a lot of pressure and exotic fronts and create turnovers, and making plays when they have to, and winning games when they have to," Bush said. "That's kind of coach Carroll's signature.”