Being new to the world of broadcasting (and also relatively new to the world of waking up before 1:00pm) there are certain truths and general axioms about USC football and the Pac 10 as a whole that I try to cling to for the purpose of lending some continuity to my on-air comments and scrambled mind. One of these truths was that a team must play a mistake-free football game to beat what has become the feared Ducks of Oregon at Autzen Stadium. This is why, after seeing the Trojans miss two scoring opportunities in the first half, I was looking forward to trying to avoid eye contact with other depressed Trojans on the team charter back to
Carson Palmer, as his usual annoyingly humble self told me on the plane ride home, "I didn't do that much, I mean I just stood there and threw the ball". The second part of that statement is resoundingly true,
Justin Fargas was given his first start by the Trojan coaching staff and he responded by turning in a physical and attacking performance by grinding out 139 yards on 27 carries. I was surprised Sultan McCullough was nowhere to be seen until midway through the third quarter but I think this happened because Fargas' violent pounding of the line of scrimmage literally took over the ballgame. If it was a one yard gain or a fifteen yard gain linebackers were getting up slowly after tackling Justin Fargas, as punishing with the run is exactly what a tailback must do against 8 and 9 man fronts. Fargas made some impatient cuts and seems to gravitate toward tacklers instead of away from them but he still played a great and tough ballgame. If the Trojans can get both Fargas and McCullough going at the same time it would be a rushing force with a dramatic and potent change-up ability. Sultan's reaction to keep his emotions in the game even though he didn't play until late proves that Pola has these guys together but I do want to see Sultan in the game more. Malaefou MacKenzie had another solid and unselfish performance at fullback and was still able to showcase his ability catching the ball with six catches for 44 yards and two touchdowns. McCullough, Fargas and MacKenzie are three very talented senior running backs with the best RB coach in the country behind them in Kennedy Pola. This group should be the steadying force for the Trojans as they strive toward a great season and perhaps a Rose Bowl berth.
Everybody gets an A on the Trojan offense for Saturday. Tim Davis' group showed more nastiness than usual by throwing themselves into the
The Trojans defensive line played pretty much how they always play. They showed some new faces to Trojan fans, one particular was Doyal Butler who was very active when he played and even racked up his first career sack. This was a milestone for Doyal who has played on both sides of the ball for the Trojans and been a good team influence transferring in from Purdue in 2000. Van Brown saw some more time for Ed Orgeron's guys but is probably going to need to become more physical to be an every down guy for the Trojans. Kenechi Udeze did not have the dominant performance he had the week before but look for him to explode against Stanford.
Controlling Onterrio Smith is not an easy task for any defense at any level, he was a strong runner who was fast and aggressive and very, very confident. In the second half, however, Matt Grootegoed got to his legs to stop what was becoming a Trojan killing performance by Smith. Matt may not be a natural linebacker but as a football player he makes plays on the defense comparable in value to the plays made by Troy Polamalu. It seems that Matt's leg finally feels all the way back and his workmanlike attitude anchors the very active Trojan front seven. With Mike Pollard and Oscar Lua both going down with injuries the Trojans had the be creative with their linebacking corps as Dallas Sartz, Bobby Otani and even Polamalu in spots were all mugged up on the line of scrimmage and played relatively consistent. Melvin Simmons, who has had some trouble in the pass game this season, was able to corral an unlikely interception away from talented Oregon TE George Wrightster. Atta boy Melvin.
Although Pete Carroll admitted the Trojans may have been a little overprepared in the first half, meaning that they overadjusted to many of
Special teams (B-)
Aaah, the kicking game. Ryan Kileen still kicks the ball too low, it's like there is a target on the centers ass. He did also have a few impressive kicks and looks to be gaining confidence and is playing to make field goals instead of trying not to miss them. As per usual the Trojan kickoff coverage team was battered by
Aside from a draw call on third and one near the goal line which made my skin crawl, Norm Chow called a brilliant game on offense. He toyed with the
As the leisurely mentality of the bye week settles upon my brain like a morning mist I feel relieved of my many duties as irrelevant talking head for the various LA sports teams. A high school game between Charter Oak and Los Altos is the only thing that stands between me and my grandparents country club condominium in Palm Desert, CA where the geriatric community can see me letting off steam in my usual style of desert living….golf cart driving, Campari sipping and trying to stuff myself into my grandfathers wardrobe of the 1960's which still fills the closet. As the Trojans reach the homestretch of the season I will be refreshed with the desert in my toenails. God bless and Fight On.
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.