One Man's Opinion

There are still two very important pieces of the puzzle that need to come back together for this season to be the best it can be. We have to stay focused and win the Bowl Game, no matter who we play. It's been a while since the last bowl and a significant bowl victory will help launch next season as well as finish this season on a high note. Secondly, the coaches have to go out and bring in the kind of kids that will help lead SC back to the upper echelon of College Football.

As I sit here at the computer on this Thanksgiving Day, I can't help but reflect back over this season of Football for the USC Trojans.  What  a season it has been.  I can't  remember ever starting a season with this much uncertainty and with so much animosity on the part of many of the SC faithful. The hiring of Pete Carroll had sent shock waves through much of the Trojan Family and even some of the staunchest supporters had expressed doubt, much of the serious variety, that Pete was the right guy for the job. Many others were absolutely incensed at the actions of AD Mike Garrett and by the way he once again carried out the search for this coach.
 Early on,  despite some serious doubt on the part of many, there was the usual boasting by many fans as to how talented this squad is and how we are going to do this and that.  Carroll himself did not denigrate the team in any way, but he did try to be honest and he tried to inform those who would listen that we did have some real issues, especially on the Oline and at the all important linebacker position.  This is a Defense minded coach who knew in his mind what system he wanted to install and he also seemed to sense from the getgo  that the personnel needed to employ said strategy might not really be available. He tried his best to move players around and to maximize the talent and speed that were available to this squad.  On the offense, there were a number of issues to overcome.  The Oline was simply young and inexperienced and in some people's minds, not very talented.  The quarterback seemed to have all the physical talent any coach could want to see, but he was having some apparent problems adjusting to yet another offensive system.  The one running back that Coach Chow was obviously counting on to help make his system work, namely Mal McKenzie, was hurt and never saw the field for the whole season.  The other superb back was hurt in the very first game of the season.  Last year's surprise, Chad Pierson was hurt and one of the most productive players on the team, Charlie Landrigan is simply a bit slow of foot.  So what were the coaches to do?
 The team always seemed to show up ready to play. I was dismayed by the lack of the offensive continuity, the early rash of penalties,  and for much of the first half of the season, it appeared to many, yours truly included, that Pete Carroll was not keeping his word about the style of D that SC would play.  He promised the fans that SC would play  an attack  brand of defense.   We would not play that prevent stuff and we would keep after them.  I tried to keep cool, but when the ND qb had enough time to write a term paper on third and long and he completed the pass for a long first down, I finally lost it and let the coach and everyone else within a section or two at ND that he was not keeping his word.  (BTW, I don't think I was quite this polite! )  Anyway, it did seem that things turned after that loss.  Pete gathered the troops, and though not immediately, somewhere soon thereafter, the D did start attacking, the opposition could not compensate and the wins started to pile up.  Similarly, the O started to click a bit more, the play calling started to look more like the O many of us thought Chow would call, and many fans, coaches, and players alike were pleased.
 The season did seem to turn on four plays.  The pick by Kris Richard saved the Arizona game, the two misses by the Oregon State Field Goal Kicker kept us from losing that game, and the terrific, gutsy run for a TD by Carson Palmer helped him solidify his role as team leader and as a guy who could in fact lead his team to a last minute victory.  Since that terrific TD, Carson has been absolutely superb. It's as if a lightbulb went off in his head and ask Cal or the Bruins how much they liked having to face this guy. For the very first time, it looks like Carson will perform up to prior expectations and I think he might be the nations best quarterback next season if his improvement continues.
 There are still two very important pieces of the puzzle that need to come back together for this season to be the best it can be. We have to stay focused and win the Bowl Game, no matter who we play.  It's been a while since the last bowl and a significant bowl victory will help launch next season as well as finish this season on a high note. Secondly, the coaches have to go out and bring in the kind of kids that they feel confident are the kinds of kids that can and will help lead SC back to the upper echelon of College Football. So far, judging by the play of frosh such as Mike Patterson, Sean Cody, Bobby Otani, and Jason Wardlow , I think this staff has shown it has the right idea of what we need.  Another excellent class will help solidly the rebuilding of this football program.
 This USC team never quit on the coaches,  they never gave up and these kids and these coaches came back from 2-5 to bring USC to a bowl game.  I have a terrific feeling about the staff and about the talent that we have and that we are about to bring in.  I think that USC is very much in the mold of the University of Oklahoma when it comes to football.  They have a great history, and they signed a younger, energetic  coach to revitalize their program.  To my way of thinking, the University of Southern California is about to show that it has made a similar move, though the actual national championship cannot be anticipated in year two, though I doubt anyone would be upset if by some toss of the dice that were the ultimate result.  Happy Holiday Season to all!!

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