Running back Julius Jones looked to be on his way for another great day rushing for 68 yards on just six carries in the first half. Jones finished the game with just 80 yards on 18 carries.
Jones said he didn't feel USC did much differently as the game went on. The Irish just made mistakes. "They were doing the same things, but we kind of just fell apart," said Jones.
Jones said the better team won today. "They definitely came out and they played hard today. The better team won today. That's all I can say."
This is the second embarrassing defeat the Irish have had to suffer at the hands of USC. Jones says the Irish need to put it behind them and move on to Boston College. "It's definitely hard to take a loss like this. They play them again next year, play them every year. We've got a big game against Boston College, and we can get down. We don't want to lose the rest our games the rest of the season. We've got to try to look at the tape tomorrow and try to get past it."
Jones said he had no answers for what went wrong. They just couldn't get things together after the first quarter. "We just broke down. We were playing good, the first couple of drives, and then we just kind of fell apart."
The Irish wanted to run the ball according to Jones, but once they fell behind, the game plan went out the window—again. "We kind of had to get away from our game plan because we were down. That kind of made us throw the ball a lot."
Center Bob Morton said the loss will be difficult to swallow. "It's going to be tough night tonight, shaking this and moving on," said Morton. "As a team, we just need to keep pumping, and we know we have a big game next week and we've got to use this to prepare for them."
Morton says the team has to forget about the loss and move on to Boston College. "You've got to put it out of your mind. Maybe use it next year when you play these guys. As far as this season goes, this is last week's news."
The Texas native says he's confident this team will turn it around. "We've just go to keep going, keep going forward, keep pushing and eventually they're going to bend and break. We just need to keep pushing with our season, and we'll break through."
USC has a good defense according to Morton and he wasn't sure what broke down after the first quarter. "They're a good defense—they are up there for a reason. We're going to have to look at film and really see what the problem was."
Corner Vontez Duff said the defense didn't execute on Saturday. "It isn't what we were doing, it was what we weren't doing," said Duff. "We weren't executing as a defense and that is what escalated to them scoring on their drives."
USC made the plays and the Irish didn't according to Duff. "They made plays and we didn't. They executed their offense and we didn't execute our defense. That's what won them the ball game—they executed and they won the game."
Defensive end Justin Tuck said that USC is just as good this year as they were last year. "The big thing they lost last year was Carson (Palmer), and they came out this year pretty much the same way they did last year and they did a great job," said Tuck.
The Irish defense didn't have any luck getting to Leinart and didn't last year as well. Tuck says the Irish need to have a better pass rush to play with a team like USC. "They did a great job of mixing up things. Quick drops, slide protection, they did a good job of protecting their quarterback, and we've got to do a better job of getting to him—we didn't do that today."
Ryan Harris said USC did change some things up in the second half which made it difficult for the line to make the plays. "The second half, they really started gaming, slanting, doing things that took away from our running game," said Harris. "As a unit, we couldn't come together."
Harris said this team has to find a way to get back to winning. "The goal is to win, it's always been to win, now more than ever, it's important. We need to win every game that we play, and it starts with Boston College."
Quarterback Brady Quinn also believes the Trojan Defense made some changes that confused the Irish offense. "In the second half, they really started changing up some of their looks as far as coverages," said Quinn. "Up front, I think they were starting to stunt a lot more and kind of bring some different pressures."
Quinn said the USC did a great job of disguising their coverages which made it difficult on the Irish offense. "We adjusted at some times. It kind of gave us a little bit of trouble trying to figure out where exactly they were coming from—what kind of coverage they were trying to disguise. They were moving into a lot of their coverage, it seemed like on the snap of the ball rather than pre-snap, sneaking up into to it. That was a little tough to read."
Quinn now has his third start under his belt and he says he's really starting to see things much better than he had been. "I think it's definitely starting to progress. I can definitely tell I'm seeing more things. It's not at the point that I want to be at, it's getting there, there's obviously a couple of decisions I wish I would've been able to make differently."
The Irish were manhandled in this game. They lost this game at the line of scrimmage and out in coverage. Is USC that much more talented than Notre Dame? We would say probably and probably better coached at this point. The Irish didn't have the speed on the outside and the strength inside to win this game, regardless. If this is a measuring stick of how far the Irish have to go, we'd have to say they still have a ways to go.