Where is the Passion?

As the days move on from last Saturday's debacle, USC gets closer to the upcoming game at the Coliseum. The focus shifts to the challenge ahead. The Trojans take on a 2-4 Arizona team that is in search of meaning for their season. Another recipe for disaster for USC if the team doesn't change its approach to this week's game.

A question has been looming overhead – like that proverbial elephant under the carpet. Where's the passion? After the loss to Stanford, in the postgame media conference, John David Booty and Lawrence Jackson were matter of fact. They explained away the defeat, accurately and factually correct. But neither seemed angry, sad or flustered.

In the locker room, there was more of the same. Most players scrambled to shower and get dressed, some maybe trying to avoid the press, which is understandable. Those who did address the media did so in a business like fashion. Very few team members displayed a level of emotion one may expect from a number one team who just lost to a forty point underdog.

Sedrick Ellis was upset; he hung his head low and looked down at his feet while trying to answer difficult questions. He wasn't happy with the results of the game. But for the most part, players treated the defeat at that moment in a non-affective way.

As we move on through the week and the team prepares for the upcoming critical game against the Arizona Wildcats, they set their focus in a different direction. It is safe to assume that the team has a renewed purpose – moving on and focusing on the task at hand. This is typical for a Pete Carroll led team. Last week's game is last week's news and all that matters is the task ahead. Fair enough.

The Trojans do need to look at the past, however. If nothing else, to remind them that there is trouble in Troyland. A kind of trouble that should not ever happen again – two weeks of lousy play stacked up next to each other.

As chance would have it, quarterback John David Booty suffered a broken finger in his throwing arm and looks unlikely to play significant minutes against the Wildcats, if he plays at all.

His replacement, Mark Sanchez is playing with the type of excitement expected for a first time starter. Sanchez plays with enthusiasm and zeal. Coincidentally, the team picked up its tempo and has been a little more animated in practice. One has little to do with the other, but the timing of these happenstances is great.

Regardless of the quarterback, the team needs to play with more emotion and purpose. Plain and simple. Another messy game, and the fickle Los Angeles crowd may boo this team into the next millennium.


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