Well, where does one start? There has been so much anticipation of this game, so many questions about the coaches and so much speculation about the team itself, that it was almost a relief to get this first game under our belts. Surely things did not go perfectly, but on the whole, one has to be relatively pleased with the end result. It is always a matter of debate as to how one might review a game, so I decided to make some generalizations and then split things into the positives and the not so positives. However, one must remember the main goal of any team which plays football is to win the game, and I congratulate the staff and the players for accomplishing that goal.
On the postive side, I think there are many points worth noting. The team did not make a tremendous number of bonehead plays. We only had one false start and one delay of game, and even that was not the result of the staff not getting the play into Carson in a timely fashion. Carson saw something and tried to change the play and just did not get it done in time. The turnovers were definitely in USC's favor and one could argue that the Trojans got jobbed on at least two calls.
Sultan rushed for 3 touchdowns (Allsport)
It was very interesting to see Sultan McCullough have one of his best games as a Trojan. He gained some 167 yards in 25 carries and he got to show his considerable skill. Many wondered what might happen to the tailback under Coach Chow's system and I think it has been shown that there is definitely room for a great tailback in any system. The offensive line allowed only one sack and the play selection was pretty imaginative and favorable. Charlie Landrigan proved that he is a very fine football player and in this system he is very productive. His unselfish play combined with considerable football savy played a big part in the victory.
There was much concern about the smallish linebackers, but they flew to the ball and I have to feel that we found ourselves a most talented inside linebacker. Michael Pollard is a quick, determined and focused football player. The inside is in good hands with him. I have not seen an SC D fly to the ball, punish receivers, and show this kind of quickness in some time. There were less obvious blitzes than I had anticipated, but they did not play soft for most of the time. I was pleased to see the play of Udeze, Cody and especially Omar Nazel at DE. Nazel does look stronger in the upper body and his quckness is a problem for the Oline. In my opinion, this is a very fine Oline that the SC Defense faced to day. They are all experienced and they are very big. I thought this D showed some real potential today.
All was not wonderful in this game, and there were many things that need to be improved. I never think it is acceptable to have the opposition score in any part due to a personal foul and something like that can cost us in a major way in the future. I would like to see a bit more pressure on the quarterback, but SJSU deserves much credit. They also spread the ball out very well and their quarterback gets rid of the rock very quickly. I would also hope that as the year progresses, the opposition is not able to run so well on us on their first possession of the game. I may be in the minority, but I feel that a very early turning point in the whole game occurred when the Spartans were unable to actually punch the ball in on their first drive. The fact that this team was able to finally put a lid on the Spartans was very signficant.
It was most disappointing once again to see our punting game sputter. Many of us were hoping that the situation had been rectified, but actions speak louder than words and so far, the punting is still not good. Many readers can easily think of a well known internet poster who has been harping on this problem for the past three years and with concern I would agree that we still have a problem. The kickoffs were a mixed bag with some kicks being very deep, but others being short and easily returned. USC seems to have dodged a bullet on the onside kick and from the looks of things, Coach Pola will have the team working on that aspect this weak.
Carson in action vs SJSU (Allsport)
One does not want to make too much of just one game. This was a victory against a pretty good and experienced team. Any way one looks at it, a win is good and it is better than a loss. The attitude amongst the players and fans was great and even the post game discussion by Coach Carroll was a welcome relief compared to that which we have heard over the past three years. He was pleased with the win, but I was personally interested to hear Carroll express his disappointment with SJSU's last score. He really acted as though he will not accept that kind of problem and the team will hear about it this weak. He was excited but controlled and his enthusiasm remains contagious.
So what happens from here? Who knows? Next week, USC plays a highly regarded Kansas State team and we will learn even more about the team then. The whole scheme of things is still new and there is still much to learn. Hopefully, as the season progresses, Carson will be able to put a bit more touch on the long passes. He was very accurate today and things should improve as he gets more comfortable with the system. When Maleafou McKenzie returns, things will get even better. Mattos is getting the rep as the go to guy already. Will the D be able to handle the option? Will Groots, Pollard, and Strong continue to grow as a unit? I guess, only time will tell.