It was hard to have any feel about how this team was going to play or where its head was this week. Steve Sarkisian kept saying they were practicing great. But it wasn't obvious they were.
Now Sark says he has to figure where the disconnect was -- if indeed there was one. That's our thought here. Although if we had to guess, where their collective head was might have been the same place that last year's team's head was two weeks after upsetting Stanford. Still celebrating that win when UCLA rolled into the Coliseum,
This team, it looked to us, was still in Palo Alto. And if you could have read their minds, you'd have to imagine they were asking themselves if the Boston College kids didn't realize who they were, how good they were in high school and as recently as last week in whipping the big, bad Cardinal.
"Look here," the Trojans seemed to be saying, "we're ranked No. 9 in the nation and we're probably better than that. And you guys got run over last week by Pitt. C'mon, man, what's the deal?. We get up 17-6 easy as can be. Time to put it on cruise control. And who can keep track of those high-low calls and remember who's supposed to take the quarterback? Sure, we knew he was going to run it but we didn't know he was going to run it that good, that fast, that deceptively. Makes your head spin just to think about it. And did we tell you we beat Stanford last week? And we practiced really well this week, Coach Sark said. That should count for something, shouldn't it? And with a team not as good as this one against your bigger, stronger better BC team a year ago, we beat the heck out of you, 35-7, and Lane Kiffin was still our coach. Something's not right here."
Well, they'd be right about that. Something is definitely not right about this program after this game. When a defense has absolutely no clue about what to do and no ability to do it even when it does, it's time to question what is going on. Maybe Stanford really did stop themselves and BC didn't? Is that the deal?
And maybe the Fresno State game is the offensive outlier. Maybe the uncertain play-calling the last two weeks is the norm. Sure you could throw it to Buck Allen all day until they stop him but why not just keep running him 'cause that's what the gameplan says even though no one on the offensive line can find the right guy to block. And we thought last year's O-line was clueless at times. Yikes. Throw the ball to Buck until they stop him. It was obvious they could stop him running the ball.
Oh and wide receivers, catch the ball. Getting open isn't the goal. Getting the ball across the goal line while holding on to it is. Try it next game.
And if it takes going with the freshmen or Quinton Powell, find someone on the edge who can tackle in space and stay home when they're supposed to and get pressure on the quarterback if they can't cover 20 yards down the field. Find something they can do. Don't have them doing things they can't. Not smart.
Oh and as to tackling practice, try it again. You'll like the way that works. And maybe returning to practicing fast with lots of reps will work for you now that the season is here and things have slowed WAAAAYYY down in practice, it seems, at least on the two days we get to observe it.
BY THE NUMBERS
54-52-51First the almost good news. Andre Heidari's 52-yard field goal was the fourth of his career longer than 50 yards almost equaling last week's 53-yarder against Stanford . . . and Buck Allen's 51-yard TD catch was the second-longest of his career and first TD catch this season . . . and USC dressed 54 originally recruited scholarship players Saturday at Boston College.
16-4, 5-1Those are the advantages the BC defense had, and the USC defense did not, in playing in the Trojans' backfield with 16 BC tackles for loss and five sacks while the standaround Trojans couldn't come close, managing just four tackles for loss and just one sack. Hard to imagine how USC could be so out of balance, so not anywhere on the edge and do it while mostly just standing there.
5 for 10Hayes Pullard played just the second half but his five tackles were fourth-best on this USC defense in just 30 minutes of action although at times it seemed that Hayes was out there alone. How does a middle linebacker become his team's only defender on the edge on sweeps and QB keeps?
8-8George Farmer, No. 8, caught the first TD reception of his career, an eight-yard scoring pass from Cody Kessler.
486-481USC allowed 486 rushing yards to Texas A&M back in the 1977 Bluebonnet Bowl, a total the Eagles could have eclipsed with their 481 had they tried to run it in from the 6 at the end of the game instead of taking a knee.
20-1-2001USC's 20 rushing yards were the fewest for a Trojans team in 13 years since the 2001 team totaled just a single yard in the Las Vegas Bowl, although that team had an excuse. They had no tailbacks. What USC's excuse, with Buck and Justin Davis, is hard to say.
12-25Boston College had lost 12 straight games to top 25 opponents over the last six seasons.
66-37-24Just when USC thought it had a chance, down just 30-24 with 3:30 left and the Trojans having three timeouts and needing a stop to get a chance to go for the win, Tyler Murphy kept the ball on second and 4 for 66 yards and inspiring the loudest sound you could imagine from 41,632 fans. It was over and they knew it. USC had no idea how to defend him when he kept it or when he handed it off.
Injury report:None that anyone reported. Just to the Trojans' pride. That's in a walking boot.
Su'a Cravens On Murphy's performance: "He just beat us with his skill. We were anticipating him to run the ball and that's what he did. We knew he liked to scramble and we just didn't execute . . . a lot of it was miscommunication on the defensive side on the high-low calls when we were supposed to tackle the dive or go to the quarterback. ". STEVE SARKISIAN "We didn't execute the things we're capable of doing and again that's directly on my shoulders. We have to do a better job. I don't think it was for a lack of effort. I think we tried ."
HAYES PULLARD "We couldn't just beat them on raw talent, they did a great job of execution . . . they came ready to play and played very, very fast."
CODY KESSLER "We lost rhythm . . . we weren't winning our one-on-ones both in the perimeter, in the backfield and up front . . . that's what football is. We had a lot of missed assignments. At the end of the day, I have to take the blame for that. I have to get the ball out quicker and give people a chance. "
BOSTON COLLEGE COACH STEVE ADDAZIO "We had a really hard week of practice . . . We played hard. Anybody who was at the game would say that this team just wouldn't back down. We just kept coming and playing. I'm most proud of that . . . but college football is unforgiving, we have to get ready for next week." BC QB TYLER MURPHY ."The guys did a good job of putting everything on the line and fighting to come back . . . Coach really challenged us as a team and we really went after it. Our job is to bring that each and every week."
You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.