Where Did it Go Wrong?

Was this loss a flash in the pan, a fluke? Or was it the symptom of a greater concern? SCPlayBook's Clay DeLeon takes an in depth look into the USC Trojan Football Program following a humbling loss to Stanford.

So What Really Happened Saturday Night in the Coliseum?

In the post game conference, Lawrence Jackson said that the loss cannot be blamed on one person or one play. Fair enough. There are many plays in the course of the game that changes the outcome of a game. He stated that this was a team loss, that the defense missed plays as much as the offense did. Fair again.

John David Booty did not lay blame either. He did comment that when the fans booed at the end of the first half, he did not blame them. He said he booed himself for a poor performance.

What Happened in the Coliseum Didn't Happen in the Coliseum

There is something amiss on this team, and it didn't just happen on Saturday Night. A week ago the Trojans had a very poor outing in Washington. True, this loss to Stanford wasn't the fault of any one player or any one play in the game. This loss happened somewhere else - in practice, preparation or in planning, somewhere.

The Wheels Falls off of the Wagon

Stepping back from the team, one can visualize a myriad of problems that has exposed the Trojans. Let's start with the obvious and move forward from there. Injuries - injuries have plagued this Trojan team.

A couple weeks ago, USC appeared to be on a clear path to the BCS Bowl Championship Series. What a difference a couple weeks make. Three weeks ago, USC manhandled a tough Nebraska team in Lincoln. This was followed by a convincing win over Washington State.

The Trojans then rolled into Seattle and the wheels fell off the cart. 16 penalties, 161 yards, turnovers and a narrow escape. But the most important incident: Kristofer O'Dowd and Chilo Rachal went down to injury, and Tiny Malu got injured as well. The continuity at the offensive line was shot. USC was on a very nice roll offensively before O'Dowd and Malu went down.

Add to these injuries, C.J. Gable announced he will be out for the year. Stafon Johnson was injured significantly enough to miss the game against the Stanford Cardinal. Injuries to Shareece Wright and Cary Harris added to the mix. Remember, Josh Pinkard went down in the first game of the season. Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews have been nursing injuries.

As deep as the Trojan roster appears to be, the talent of the aforementioned are hard to replace. So this is where it starts, the injuries. But that's not where it ends.

Intangibles

There is a fire missing in the locker room. In years past, playmakers wanted the ball. Reggie Bush, Lendale White, Matt Leinart, Mike Williams, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Keary Colbert, Carson Palmer. They all wanted the ball.

This year's crop lacks that desire. Yes, Stafon Johnson, Chauncey Washington and Fred Davis all want the ball. But there appears to be a disjoint at the WR spot. No player or players are really wanting the ball, asking for it in crunch time, leading the team.

John David Booty does a good job, and he has earned his position. Until the wheels fell off the cart, he was deadly accurate.

Defensively, also, something is amiss, but it is not as critical as the other side of the ball. Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga are sufficient. But they sorely miss Brian Cushing.

Coaches are in a pickle. Here too, there seems to be a disjoint. Something the coaches are doing/not doing needs to be repaired. Gone are the great halftime adjustments. The game planning for Nebraska and WSU were fantastic. Against Washington and Stanford, not so much.

The Trojans came out on their first possession in the Coliseum and looked out of sorts. It seemed the scripted first 15 plays were forgotten. The plays for Nebraska and WSU were picture perfect. On the contrary, the plays for Washington and Stanford weren't very perfect at all.

Bouncing Back

A lot needs to be fixed to salvage a championship season. It starts today. It starts on the field in practice. Maybe the seniors need to call a players only meeting. Maybe someone needs to get mad at the team. Maybe the coaches need to yell. Maybe, maybe, maybe. One thing is for sure, the times, they sure are a changing.


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