Just Sayin' . . . between the 'zona's

After the second shocking loss in the first five games, we have to ask is this Trojans team, at 3-2, really in the same place as it was last year at this time only maybe in worse shape as it prepares for the Arizona Wildcats, who USC beat then to get going for an eventual 10-4 season.

Time to talk you down this week -- only we won't. We can't. No one can. Trojan football is in a tough place right now. Which of course is what happens when you lose two of your first five games that you had no business losing.

How'd that work for the guy who started out the 2013 season as head coach.

So no questions. Not a lot of answers, either. Just all talk. We're "Just Sayin.' "

Feel free to chime in.

*** So the theme this week is the "gutty little Trojans" head to Tucson to take on the nationally ranked Wildcats in a game where the underdogs hope some way to hang in there and surprise RichRod's high-flying, although not-very-highly-rated Wildcat recruits . . . Just Sayin'.

*** So let's see if we've got this right: The lesson from Saturday's 38-34 loss to is you have to play all the way, all 60 minutes. But the lesson we'd like to see learned is that you have to keep coaching for all 60 minutes. Take off the final three and . . . well, you know how that goes . . . Just Sayin.

*** You can't coach scared. Or not to lose. Or worrying about what might go wrong. Not at USC . . . Just Sayin'.

*** A year ago this week, a shaken USC team was picking itself up under a new coach after a shocking loss to Arizona State and just hoping to get it together against a decent Arizona team at home and now here we are in almost the same situation with the same 3-2 record and an almost new head coach who is here for a good long while with no obvious way to jump-start things now. You only get to bring in a CEO in midseason once maybe every four or five decades, if you're lucky . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But here's the crazy thing. That Arizona team that USC handled more easily than the 38-31 score lost its two best players -- running back Ka'Deem Carey and quarterback B.J. Denker -- and had the nation's 30th-ranked recruiting class with just one Top 100 signee (to USC's No. 10 class with four Top 100 players) and yet RichRod's 10th-ranked Wildcats are 5-0 coming off a win at Oregon and the toast of the college football world. And a USC team that was ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation is now unranked and wondering what hit it . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But there's a reason -- make that two -- that the Arizona schools are riding high right now -- head coaches Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez. These are two big-time professional college football coaches with big-time professional college football coaching staffs. They know who they are, how they have to play and win football games no matter if they have the top talent -- or even their own first-team guys. And they play all the way to the final whistle . . . Just Sayin'.

*** We know much has been made of a head coach calling his own plays or an O-line with three true freshmen and a first-time sophomore or a quarterback who can't run but when you do the math, this is a team that averaged 32.5 points a game (31 and 34) in its two losses. Should be enough to win . . . Just Sayin'.

*** When you can't stop a team with lesser talent from running the ball when you know it can't throw it or a team from throwing the ball you know can't run it and doesn't have the time anyway, then you have a problem with what your defense is doing. When that defense is mostly back from a team that finished in the top 25 nationally in eight defensive categories, you have more than a problem. And when you don't do anything about that, you would seem to have a professional death wish . . . Just Sayin'.

*** If you gave either Bishop Gorman or St. John Bosco a nine-point lead with three minutes to go against that ASU team in the Coliseum Saturday, chances are neither would have lost that game . . . Just Sayin'.

*** How often do you get a situation where in the final three minutes, all you had to do was do one thing right -- get one first down, kick one decent punt, make one easy tackle on a mid-range out route, or get organized against a Hail Mary at the buzzer, maybe even commit a penalty on that play to prevent an easy TD, and you almost certainly win the game -- and you can't do a single one of them . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Can we make a deal here that the next time USC has a chance to put a game away leading by nine points with seven minutes left after driving 61 yards in 11 plays and having a third and 2 on the opponent's 29, the Trojans will run the ball twice to try to pick up the first down in what we term "four-down territory" for good reason. Not "bubble screen territory . . . Just Sayin'.

*** By the way, starting this week in the 2013 season, there were no bubble screens called the final nine games for USC. Someone figured something out apparently. If only 2014 would follow suit . . . Just Sayin'.

*** So now, we're told, USC doesn't really have all that many good players much like last year's Trojans were no good those first five games, either. As if lack of talent is the only reason for a 3-2 record with two disappointing losses . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Big danger now with no real significant changes on the horizon is when do the veteran players start thinking about next year and how best to prepare themselves for the next step in their careers and not the next game in their college season since all the work and dedication seems to have left them in the same place they were a year ago before the big change . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Time for this Trojan team to get better, week after week after week. It's what young teams are supposed to do. It's what they have to do. Especially when they play hard, as they have . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Time for a pass rush . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Time for the coaches and players, and the coaches and coaches, to be on the same page . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Time to throw the ball down the field. Ask ASU how to do it if you don't know how -- and why it works. USC can run it a little bit and can't throw it deep while an ASU team that couldn't run it at all, could . . . Just Sayin'

*** Time to run George Farmer down the field as fast and as far as he can and have Cody Kessler throw it as far as he can and get it on video so that everybody USC plays has to think about defending that whenever he's out there . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Time to put in some work on special teams -- how about kickoffs, returning them and covering them. Pick one to start . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Time to free Big Leonard Williams . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Did anyone say "Josh Shaw"? . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Time to start acting like there's still a chance to win the Pac-12 South, because there is still that chance. Arizona thinks it has a chance . . . Just Sayin'.


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

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