That thud you heard was not the mighty falling, but the impact which abruptly ended the fall. When the final seconds of last Thursday night's game ticked off the clock at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, USC and the stigma which had been attached to them melted like the Wicked Witch of the West. They were no longer the "lock" for the BCS Championship game. They were no longer Pete Carroll's "best team ever." And they were certainly not the NCAA's Ark carrying the best and brightest college football had to offer. What they were was a good team, with very good players, and a coach hoping to put it all together. What they weren't was experienced, prepared to play, and everything they had been said to be.
By now you're all aware, and probably all too aware, of USC's first-rate tank job in Corvallis last Thursday. But did we really learn anything we didn't already know? We knew their offensive line was relatively untested, we knew their receivers were relatively inexperienced, and we knew their ability fell short of their hype. Yet, for a period of time, most forgot the former and bought significantly into the latter. After-all, they'd run roughshod over a subpar Virginia team and boat-raced a continually overrated Ohio State team. Neither of which were unexpected and neither of which were worthy of the buzz surrounding the Trojans prior to the Oregon State game.
Are these guys really comparable to the Leinart, Bush, Jarrett Trojans? No.
They've got talent. But we knew that.
They've got speed. But we knew that.
Do they have "it?" I don't know.
But I do know Oregon can play with them.
Since Chip Kelly's arrival, the Ducks have repeatedly ranked amongst the nation's best offensively. This year's Oregon squad is no different. Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount, Ed Dickson and Terence Scott, and if Jaison Williams can solve the mystery that is his hands, he may be the most dangerous of all. But they have to put it together. Masoli, Harper, and Thomas have to play smart. Turnovers are death in a game versus SC, and in weeks past have or nearly have led to Oregon's demise. Last week's game at Washington State may not have been much in regards to a challenge, but what it was, was an opportunity to right the ship. Masoli got healthy, the defense got back some swagger, and the team as a whole got back some confidence.
Now it's time to step up.
The players have to play and the coaches have to put the players in the best possible position to succeed. That means applying pressure defensively, limiting the defense's time on the field, and offensively, staying away from third and long situations. In other words…no penalties! There's nothing worse for a young quarterback then second or third and long, especially for a spread option attack.
So go play Oregon. Forget the Coliseum and its history, forget USC and its tradition, and remember what we now, and always did know; the Trojans have weaknesses. Sure they're good, but so is Oregon. Sure they're talented, but so is Oregon. And believe it or not, they are relatively young, along with Oregon.
It's just eleven on eleven, on a grass field, in a warm climate, and with a team beaten by Oregon State…enough said.
Game Day: They Are Who We Thought They Were.
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