Norm Chow, USC's latest offensive guru managed to do something most Trojan fans thought only Paul Hackett could manage - completely ignore Sultan McCullough.
Chow had stated in pre-season that coaching wasn't brain surgery and that he'd take what teams gave him. It figured that the Wildcats would stack the line and challenge us to pass. What didn't figure was that Norm would not go to Sultan more often. Kstate was quick on the run, but then why not utilize his prize runner as a pass catcher in the flat? Why not, when it's second and two, go on the ground and keep the drive alive versus drawing from Hackett's playbook by attempting a low percentage pass down the sideline? This, unfortunately, was not all that raised questions or smacked of Hackett.
There were a few other aspects to Troy's performance that seemed horribly reminiscent of last year's regime: penalties, dropped passes, missed assignments and enough special teams' mistakes to lose the game.
David Davis muffed his fieldgoal attempt, but the missed extra point had a lot more to do with the holder not getting the laces spun around in time for the kick, then it did anything else. It is a shame, however, that Davis had to experience such early failure as Trojan fans will be tempted to lump him into the ongoing kicking woes of his predecessors.
Much was said about Carson's performance yesterday - people thought he was just a touch off, a bit behind, throwing high, low, anywhere but where the ball needed to be. It appeared that Carson spent a lot of his time rolling out and doing whatever was necessary to keep the play's alive. Kansas State's secondary was very good and it was obvious that SC's receivers struggled at times to get open. The coverage was tight enough to allow Carson to be SC's leading rusher for the day.
What was disappointing about yesterday's loss to a very average Kansas State team is that they are just that, very average. USC is not much better, right now, but they are capable of far more than they displayed. One can only hope that lessons were learned from this game from both the coaches and the players. They had better learn quick, however, because the season doesn't get any easier.
Not wanting to end this on a down note there was something that was extremely encouraging about yesterday's loss - it didn't appear to devastate the players. In fact, Carroll delivered a very passionate post game speech that seemed to lift the spirits of the kids and made them see that they beat themselves and are capable of so much more. Following last year's ongoing death march, it would be easy for this year's squad to step right in line. From talking to many of them, however, this is something they are not going to do - not anymore.
SC is good enough to beat anybody if they bring their "A" game, but they are not good enough to beat any of their upcoming opponents playing like they did yesterday.