USA Today Sports

EMERGENCY 'JUST ASKIN' ' . . . WEEK 2

If our Publisher Ryan Abraham can have an "Emergency Sunday Podcast" after the Alabama game, we say we can have an "Emergency Just Askin' " a day later. So here we go.

Publisher Ryan Abraham set the precedent with his "Emergency Podcast" from DFW Sunday. Here's our answer from in front of the TV watching Ole Miss-Florida State game Monday night as we end up a heck of an opening weekend for college football -- USC excepted of course.

But in light of USC's 52-6 loss to the defending national champion Tide, we're changing this up from "Just Sayin' " to "Just Askin'." Because if you don't have questions, you must be an Alabama fan.

And for this one week, yes, we're going to violate the 24-hour rule and look back two days, then forget about it.

Here goes.

*** We know USC pays a great deal of attention to the Catapult telemetry numbers measuring the amount of energy players use during practices and games but we're wondering if the top two numbers recorded for Trojans have ever been by the punter and the kickoff return man? That's probably not a good thing, is it?. . . Just Askin'. 

*** OK, we're no professional O-line coach or anything but when you have an offensive line like USC's that's bigger, taller and slower than the people you're playing, why would you widen the splits to make it easier for them to run through and around your guys who are now on islands with plenty of territory to navigate on the way across the line of scrimmage? . . . Just Askin'. 

*** You say you'd widen the splits to give your running backs a chance to find a seam somewhere but then we must inquire further, what if the flying defenders, as they so often did, manage to get through those seams before your running backs reach them? Isn't that a problem? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Since when does a veteran USC O-line with as much of a proud history at that position as any program anywhere feel the need to cut block anyone? And then mostly just end up rolling on the ground after getting stepped over and run around? Did we really see plays where the only guys on the ground were the USC O-line and the USC running back? And how do you whiff against a guy just inches from your nose? . . . Just Askin'. 

*** And did the guys at Pro Football Focus really chart the USC O-line in the first half and find only one USC linemen on one running play -- Zach Banner -- get a positive grade? Is that bad? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Not to get too all defensive here but when we said this USC offensive line was in better shape, with the guys who had to gain weight having done so and the guys who needed to lose weight having done so and with measurable strength gains and clearly practicing harder and having the benefit of a year of experience all across the board, wasn't that all absolutely true? . . . Just Askin.

*** But when we said we didn't know if they could handle the physical force and speed Alabama was going to hit them with, wasn't that also true? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Can a case be made that you can't change a culture that's taken six years at least to build up in one offseason? . . . Just Askin'.

*** But then we also said we thought USC would be able to incorporate what Western Kentucky was doing on offense last year and how much we liked that idea after what we saw in WKU's game at LSU a year ago and then we saw nothing that looked like WKU's take-what-they-give-you, move-the-chains-offense we were promised and so we think we're bound to apologize for leading you astray on what you might see, don't you agree? . . . Just Askin'.  

*** And for saying the D-line was greatly improved with the arrival of Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, well, at least we called that right, didn't we? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And we were looking pretty good halfway through the second quarter when we said we thought USC had a chance here, right? . . . Just Askin'.

*** But from now on, when we tell you the offense doesn't look all that good the two weeks before a game after tweaking things for a specific game plan, as happened in the two Alabama weeks, shouldn't you believe the last thing you hear from us? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And shouldn't you folks just forget those good things we said about the O-line -- players and coaching -- the last eight months since those guys obviously did? . . . Just Askin'. 

*** For those who think Alabama hiring Steve Sarkisian and not naming him until a day after the USC game makes the Tide look pretty sleazy and just a bit slimy, do you think Nick Saban really cares about what you or anybody thinks? . . . Just Askin'.

*** If Saban did care about anything anyone thinks, do you think he'd have blamed USC trash-talking for the fight his Bama players had on the sideline? Again . . . Just Askin' but maybe Just Sayin' on that one. Not really a question.

*** And after watching Alabama's physically demanding pre-game warmups, we're pretty sure Saban doesn't spend a great deal of time worrying about how much it takes out of his team, ya' think? . . . Just Askin'.

*** After all the time USC devotes to special teams, how in the world do they have to waste one of those three first-quarter timeouts on a special teams substitution error? . . . Just Askin'.

*** So when do we think the Trojans should be allowed to do that "dog-fighting" pre-game stuff and that cocky, gangster entrance? Would the answer be if and when they run off nine straight wins, how about they can do it before the UCLA game after they've earned the right -- although at that point, would they really feel the need to? . . . Just Askin.

*** Maybe Saturday's Marcus Allen Bobblehead Doll Game comes just in time this week for Utah State since it's impossible to imagine Marcus joining in on that kind of punk entrance. What do you think? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And from this point on, doesn't this program have to forget the Bama loss, after learning from it, and then get it out of their heads as they take advantage of low expectations and a schedule that will still allow them to have a great season? Sounds right, doesn't it? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And for those of you screaming at the dumb play-caller(s), we're wondering what would you call when your six offensive linemen (tight end included) cannot block Alabama's four down linemen? And that leaves Alabama to play their back seven against JuJu and whoever else. How do those odds work out for you? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Although we're not saying there wasn't plenty to be disappointed with in terms of the scheme and execution of the offense against Alabama? Like what happened to Ronald Jones? Or if the tight ends are going to just be blockers, why not bring in another tackle? . . . Just Askin'. Oh wait, you say you saw how the tackles blocked so never mind.

*** Heard this from an Alabama staffer who said how shocked they were that they could handle USC with just the front four. That wasn't in the game plan. But if they were shocked, how do they think USC felt? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And for those of you who want to keep going back over the December hiring of Clay Helton after the UCLA win, do you really think Max Nikias was going to accept the recommendation of the AD who hired Steve Sarkisian that USC should throw $7 million at an NFL coach or more than the $4 million it would take to lure a Tom Herman away from Houston before someone else did? No way. Wasn't elevating Clay really the only choice considering the total lack of credibility in the USC Athletic Department at that time? And do you think it's really Clay's fault he took the job? And isn't the one thing for everyone who cares about USC football right now to hope and pray that this program -- coaches and players -- gets its act together? And if it does, not an easy task for sure starting from a 52-6 deficit, is there anyone on this schedule USC can't beat? . . . Just Askin'.

*** But is there anyone on this schedule that can't beat the USC team that gave up 52 points in 28 minutes and didn't score a touchdown? . . . Just Askin'. 

*** Last year after he took over, Clay talked about being in a sudden-death playoff every game when another loss would have knocked USC out of the Pac-12 championship game. Isn't he in nearly the same situation this year when another bad loss will knock him out of more than the championship game? . . . Just Askin'.  

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

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