I'm a little frustrated and this week it's not just sexually. I'm frustrated because once again the Trojans have seemed to misinterpret the strength of this football team which is defense and the run game. I'm frustrated because I'm one of those people who didn't want to see Carson Palmer throw the ball 50 times a game ever again. I'm frustrated because I saw USC come out to Martin Stadium and dominate the line of scrimmage with a well calculated run game and then basically abandon it to be special and fancy with an anomaly of a halfway efficient, five wide receiver passing scheme. I'm frustrated that a 10 oz. steak cost $30.95 in
Carson Palmer made some plays that were unexplainably great. His physical skills allow him to do unbelievable things on the football field but we shouldn't have to put the ball in his hands 50 times per game and ask him to win the game for us. I believe
I feel for the running backs this week. These senior backs should be the heart and backbone of this team and we should be depending on them completely. Sultan McCullough, Justin Fargas and Malaefou MacKenzie (who doesn't get run plays from scrimmage anymore) were all underused and turned into receivers at the end of the game. Sultan runs a lot better isolation play then he does a screen pass. The strength of Fargas is not when he is split out past the hash. USC opened the game with a heavy dose of Sultan. He ran the ball on the first drive and got a touchdown, he ran the ball on the second drive and got them inside the ten before we threw a fade. When you have a great defense you need good running backs on the other side of the ball to keep them off the field. We have that but sometimes we forget to use them and this was the case on Saturday. WSU is a gambling defense, they move the line, they bring backers and do different things to keep you guessing. They guessed right many times but that is no excuse for abandoning the run game. A banged-up Chad Pierson had a very good game and Brandon Hancock has skills but is still in too much of a learning curve to see much action.
These men were designated to be the stars of the game and they were. The year of the pretty wide receivers with wristbands, towels and high-jumping athletic ability is still alive and well at the
The OL played well sporadically but they couldn't get any rythm run blocking because of so many 5-WR sets that we used to start so many drives. When we give up sacks on 3-step drops it is normally because the ball is supposed to be gone. Any confidence that may have been gained by the line early in the game can disappear when you go away from them. This OL is not the best in USC history but it is a manageable group of good players which is more than I can say of years past. Winston Justice continues to perform very well and I'm shocked at the young freshman's ability to start on the OL. We also need better blocking from the TE position. It's time for Alex Holmes to use his big body and athletic ability to be more physical.
A banged-up Omar Nazel made the d-line just a little bit softer than they would normally be. There is no doubt Omar played courageously with an injury yet his hesitation helped allow the Cougars to get a major spark on a 75-yard td run off a simple counter play. Counter is a base play and there is no excuse for it ever going 75 yards, that is the kind of play that loses football games. The Trojans know how to defend counter but a few missed tackles and the result was bad. It was also difficult for Patterson, Cody and Udeze to get to Jason Gesser with his 3-step drops and excellent scrambling ability and creativity. Gesser is the closest thing the Pac-10 will see to John Elway in a long time, a gutsy leader who should get credited with the victory.
The Trojan defense was physical and opportunistic as always but it was just a different kind of game against a different kind of team with an offense that harkens back to the Run-N-Shoot days. This was a tough game for any linebacker who likes to play the run. Mike Pollard and Oscar Lua both had trouble dropping in their zones against the short passing game that Jason Gesser masterfully ran too well down the stretch. Despite dropping an interception, Champ Simmons kept his cool and had an above average performance in his return to
Losing Troy Polamalu early in the game to an ankle injury, which looked a lot worse than it actually is, threw a wrench in the Trojan defensive plan. They were not able to use their nickel package or move
Special teams (D)
Once again I would like to say that I've never kicked a ball in my life. I don't know what it is to kick a ball, I don't know what it is to hold a ball, I don't know what it is to snap a ball. All I know is that most teams, I mean most top teams (with the exception of
Coaching (no grade)
I'm not a football coach and I've never been a football coach. Sometimes I feel awkward critiquing these men because I understand the dedication that is involved, the neglect of family, the complete immersion in what they are doing. I also have faith in Pete Carroll and the type of coaches he has brought in to restore this program, they are good men. However, I do feel that we got away from the strength of this team which is the run game and the defense. In the Pac-10 you have wide open offenses and when we try to play the game of the other team we can end up in a shootout but that's not what we do best. A five point lead in a ball control game can feel like 30 if you are playing well but a two touchdown lead in an up and down game is never safe. The Trojans were able to destroy the will of
There was a time in my life when I let a girl dress me in Armani, I had frosted tips in my hair and hung out at the coolest clubs on Sunset. It only took me a month or two to realize I was trying to be something I'm not. Now I'm back to being ugly and dirty and drinking in only the finest watering holes of
Petros Papadakis is a former USC tailback and the sideline reporter for Trojans football on KMPC-1540. He also hosts the Trojans pregame showand Tuesday night's USC Insider on KMPC-1540. On television, Petros is an analyst for Fox Sports Net's Southern California Sports Report and he's the sideline reporter for Fox Sports Net's "High School Game of the Week." When Petros is not doing television or radio he's waiting tables at his family's Greek restaurant, Papadakis Taverna, in San Pedro. Petros has no free time.