The Trojans lost to the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday by a score of 21-16 in front of 53,692 at the Coliseum. The game followed a familiar pattern for USC this season as they had an opportunity to win but a series of key mistakes, penalties and turnovers proved too much to overcome in the end and it resulted in a third straight loss. Once again the Trojan defense played well enough but the offense has yet to see the consistency in execution that is so critical for success.
Notes from the SidelinesUSC CB Kris Richard recovered a blocked FG and ran 65 yards for a touchdown and was also involved in a terrific match up all day with Stanford WR Luke Powell. They completed a few passes but Richard had pretty good coverage throughout the game…..Kori Dickerson has turned into a fairly dependable receiver for the Trojans at tight end, one they should look to more often….. Keary Colbert had a good first half and needs to become a 2nd receiving option next to Kareem Kelly
Kevin Arbet may have been the best player on the field for the Trojans as he downed a ball inside the five on a punt return, ran a punt back to inside the 10 yard line to set up the only USC offensive score, recovered a fumble on the strip by Frank Strong and also put the pressure on Fasani that led to the DeShaun Hill pick.
LB Chris Prosser had a sack and also knocked down a pass at the line. He has shown the ability to make plays in this defense and that may allow Grootegoed to move back to safety.
It was that kind of day
Even when Cardinal QB Randy Fasani tried to throw a ball away the Trojans were called for a pass interference penalty.
Blocking and Tackling
Former USC coach John McKay once said that football was a simple game and that the job of a coach was to get good players and teach them how to block and tackle. It can be debated how good the current players on the USC roster are right now but there can be no debate on the fact that they are having serious troubles with the blocking and tackling part. It's hard to imagine that our talent is not capable of performing at a level above where the program is at right now so the question becomes when did we forget to apply the basic principles that lead to winning football? Radio sideline reporter Tim Ryan commented that the Trojans used to win the battle for the line of scrimmage but then added that, sadly, this is no longer the case. The Stanford Cardinal came into the Coliseum and physically manhandled the USC Trojans, the team once coached by Marv Goux, the man who preached the philosophy of "big man on big man" football. We couldn't establish a meaningful running game on offense and, when the chips were down and we needed a big stop, we couldn't do anything on defense to prevent them from marching down the field to run out the clock. The Trojans ran a total of three offensive plays in the 4th quarter, a time period once dominated by USC teams who had spent the earlier part of the game wearing down the opponent on the way to victory. Maybe it's time to bring Goux back to practice, give him a whistle and let him whip the players around a little until they understand what it takes to play football the way Trojans are supposed to play.EXTRA POINTS
It was an active day for the defensive line as Lonnie Ford started things off with a strip for a caused fumble, Omar Nazel had a sack and Bernard Riley played the whole game as a result of injuries to other players. Ryan Nielsen left the game with a sore shoulder and Bobby DeMars was out after the opening series with an arm injury. Shaun Cody played well at tackle in place of Nielsen but it seems like he could be more effective at end with the bigger Kenechi Udeze moving back to tackle…..Tim Ryan noticed that Nazel was biting on the runs up the middle and predicted Stanford would catch him on a key bootleg late in the game and, sure enough, Fasani scrambled around Nazel for a big gain in the 4th quarter…..For the 2nd week in a row the Trojans forced a turnover on the opening drive and recovered on the opponents side of the field but, once again, we were unable to take advantage of the situation…...Steve Stevenson saw his 1st action of the season and had one catch. Stevenson is a player who often finds himself in the coaches doghouse but he also seems to make plays whenever he is on the field…..Key to Game: Offensive Woes
This wasn't supposed to happen. We weren't supposed to be sitting here four games into the season wondering what in the world is wrong with the offense. For the past few years we were stuck with a self described guru who could put up yards with his offense but was unable to generate enough points or victories so we opened up the bank vault and went out and got the real guru, the one who had a track record for 27 years in the college game of making an offense work. Certainly if any man was going to fix the Trojans sputtering offensive machine it would be Norm Chow but that hasn't happened yet and the scary part is that Chow seems as perplexed as the rest of us. The players don't seem to be picking up the various elements of his system and Chow admits that "we should be up to snuff by now." It's not like the problems are confined to one area either. The line has problems with both run blocking and pass blocking, the receivers have troubles running the proper routes to get the right spacing and then often have trouble hanging on to the ball when it does get there. The running game has been nonexistent for 3 straight games and the only person who has consistently put up big numbers has been Carson Palmer but, unfortunately, those big yardage days have also come with big numbers in terms of interceptions, missed passes and key mistakes. The problems facing Chow and the offense will not be solved by any one person, they need to be solved by a change in mindset. We need to find players who can make plays and if those who are on the field right now can't make it happen then we need to find someone who can.
Quote of the Day
"I don't like the way this is going." Pete Carroll
Are we supposed to be content to hear that our team is playing with heart and not giving up? We love the fact that they are but have the expectations for Trojan football fallen so low that mere effort is to be applauded? The football tradition at USC was not built on the fact that Anthony Davis gave it his all on the 2nd half kickoff against Notre Dame 1974 or that Charles White showed courage on the final drive against Ohio State in the 1980 Rose Bowl. Those plays and those players are part of the Trojan tradition because they delivered when it counted, when the game was on the line they stepped up and made something happen. One of the major problems for the Trojan program in recent years is that we haven't seen a player consistently step up and make those clutch plays since Keyshawn Johnson and it is no coincidence that USC is 32-32 since his last appearance in a Trojan uniform. We need to find that player, coach, anyone who will figure out that USC has lost 7 of the last 8 games in the Coliseum and decide that enough is enough. We let Stanford come into our home on Saturday and take control of the game. We shot ourselves in the foot with nine penalties while Stanford didn't draw a flag until the 4th quarter. We tried to run the football and in the first half ended