Just Askin' . . . just like you

What happened to a Trojans team that looked like it had it all together coming out of August and even managed to stand strong, if a little bit lucky, at Stanford and then came up short in every way at Boston College? Just Askin' here.

OK, you have questions, we have questions, Sark has questions, as do his players.

And we all have a week off -- with Game 4 now 12 days away when Oregon State comes to the Coliseum. So much the way they do it in the British Parliament, it's Question Time.

Some of these we'll even answer for you. Like the gimmes we got from some of you folks out there last weekend after the BC embarrassment.

*** Is it the offense that's the problem? Yes. Is it the defense? Yes. Is it Cody Kessler? No. See how easy that was.

Now that we're rolling, we'll keep on "Just Askin' " -- one question after another.

*** So let me see if I've got this right, if USC lines up for 70 offensive plays and 16 of them don't get the ball back to the line of scrimmage for a total of 58 negative yards, is that a bad thing? . . . Just Askin'.

*** If USC is trying to run a hurryup offense and has six three-and-out series at BC and 11 straight series with five or fewer plays before the offense is off the field, does that make it harder to go hurryup? Or even play defense at the end of the game?. . . Just Askin'.

*** If USC runs nine first down passes for 75 yards (an 8.3-yard average) while calling another 11 runs on first down for a total of just 14 yrds (a 1.3 average) at BC, should it maybe throw more on first down? . . . Just Askin'.

*** If USC ends up with an average third-and-7.8 yards to go, as the Trojans did at BC, is that a major fail in playcalling and game-planning which is almost unrecoverable no matter how well your quarterback can scramble and throw on the run or how many receivers you have? . . . Just Askin'.

*** After a 37-31 loss in a game you were favored to win by 17 points, did this team have the plane coming home held for a "never-again" session on what the team did wrong. Wondering here if maybe it would have been more appropriate to give a quick apology to the team for bad gameplanning, bad practice-week prep and almost no in-game adjustments with a promise to get it right before the next game? . . . Just Askin'.

*** If you find your team running low on linebackers not to mention guys who can tackle in space, is there a way Quinton Powell and maybe even Soma Vainuku, who's carrying the ball exactly 1.0 times a game, could bring their demonstrated open-field tackling skills on special teams to a defense in need of their talents on the edge? . . . Just Askin'.

*** As much as the talk has been of this USC team running a pro-style offense from the shotgun on speed, is the talent here better suited for a Mike Leach-style Texas Tech attack for now with three true freshmen and a first-year redshirt sophomore starter in the offensive line and a nine-deep wide receiver corps with a hybrid freshman tight end with great speed and the abilty to catch the football (most of the time anyway) and a smart, quick-thinking, accurate and able-to-throw-on-the-run quarterback? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And one more piece of that puzzle is that you have a lead running back in Buck Allen who catches the ball and converts it upfield into yards after the catch as well as anyone in college football. Instead of running Buck 15 times for 31 yards while throwing it to him nine times for 118 aganst a BC team that showed no ability to stop him, what if you flipped those numbers? What if Buck could have picked up 200 yards receiving without all those minimal-yard run attempts? Wouldn't a swing or checkdown pass to Buck be the same as a long handoff as it gets him the ball in space? . . . Just Askin'.

*** It's pretty obvious USC would rather not see J.R. Tavai and Scott Felix having to play in coverage all that much and they're not the greatest tacklers in space. So how was it that BC was able to get them into places USC wished they weren't? . . . Just Askin'.

*** When a team runs the option, and has its best running back and athlete at quarterback, there's really only one thing your defense absolutely must get done in your game-prep work: Determine who takes the quarterback, who takes the pitch man and how you're going to get that done in the game. Now that's for a JV high school team, not a Top 10 team with USC's talent. So how did the Trojans not have that down? How is that even possible? . . . Just Askin'.

*** When an opponent cannot throw the football and if it does, that's the best way for you to get back into the game, when it completes only five passes to its own team and one to your team and averages just 3.9 yards per pass attempt, how in the world can that team manage to pile up 481 yards rushing on a USC defense many thought had a chance to be as good as any in the nation this year? . . . Just Askin'.

*** How many ticket sales for the Oregon State game will the BC loss cost USC? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And now for a couple of questions courtesy of the UCLA fans just back from Texas on my shuttle bus Sunday at LAX: How in the world did USC beat Stanford and lose to BC? And how can their Bruins never beat Stanford? . . . Just Askin'.

*** How can this USC team get back up to the speed and tempo and rep numbers it practiced with in the summer without the coaches and in August with them now that the season is here and so much time seems to be taken up doing work against the Scout team? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Remember when Sark said you'll be amazed at the way we practice, that you've never seen a team go this fast. And he was right -- until the season started. But now that we're in-season, we have seen a team practice the way this one does and not all that long ago. What changed? And how do they get that uptempo team back? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Remember how that fast practicing was really going to help the defense with its pursuit angles and tackling both in space and at speed. Has the slowdown affected them even more than it has the offense? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Remember when defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said he was going to play, and we quote, "an attacking defense." What happened to that? How can USC's three opponents have 26 tackles for loss to the Trojans' mere 13? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Last week, ninth-ranked USC got the 8 p.m. EDT game on ESPN against BC. Next week, the 17th-ranked Trojans go against Oregon State at 10:30 p.m. EDT. With another BC-like performance, do the Trojans become our favorite network's Midnight Special? Or even worse, get a first game on the Pac-12 Networks? . . . Just Askin'.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.

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