Petros Report Card - Stanford review

Now that the USC road show is grounded in LA until the holiday season, I'm going to try and make amends for the weekender by going to the Greek Orthodox Church at least once and going to bed early at least twice.

Petros will speak at the WeAreSC dinner at Papadakis Taverna on Wednesday, November 20th.  Click here for details

 

If you ask most people who know me, or read this column, the fact that I'm a raving idiot is a foregone conclusion (just like SC facing Stanford in a late-season match-up at the Farm). However, for those of you who don't know I am a money-spent, hungover idiot sitting here at the San Jose Airport at 9:00am embarrassed for myself and the company I kept on the weekender.  I thought that maybe I would have a good time yukking it up with Trojan coeds and alumni in the Bay but after some guy named Steve told me last week's column sucked outside a bar I couldn't get into because of my shoes on Friday night, I should have realized the weekend was headed in the wrong direction.  This became increasingly evident when an anonymous traveling partner of mine found himself in a physical confrontation with a girl who deposited her Red Bull and vodka on his head and Coogi sweater.  Despite a convincing Trojan victory which proved Pete Carroll can coach against bad teams as well as against good and mediocre ones, I hate myself for my transgressions and megalomaniacal attitude throughout the entire party weekender.  Suffice it to say that I am depressed and utterly leveled by my irresponsible behavior.  Join us all as Trojan fans collectively rededicate ourselves for the stretch run of the season and abstain completely from sorority girls, whiskey, strip clubs, gender bending and bad commentary.  Let it be known that I may never see the face of the almighty one after the foolish acts I committed but I'm Fighting On anyways.  Here are this weeks grades:

 

QB (A)

Carson's improvement week to week this season has been a special thing to watch.  Versus Stanford his calm collected disposition in the huddle, the pocket and especially in his throwing motion makes his unparalleled natural ability shine brightly.  Even while improvising (which used to be a scary thing for SC fans to watch) he always seemed completely in control.  With four touchdowns and some beautifully thrown balls down the field, the Heisman talk will get a little louder in Los Angeles this week.  I still maintain that getting Carson to the ceremony will be a major victory for the USC football program. The trophy may be just a bit too much to ask.  Also, a big congratulations to the pride of Chatsworth (the pornography capital of the world) Matt Cassel, aka Stifler, for completing his first pass in college.  You know that the Cas-dog always comes through in the clutch.  I do wish that Norm Chow would get back-ups Cassel and Matt Leinart throwing some live balls earlier in these blowout match-ups.  As much as we all hate to dwell on it your back-up QB is always one missed block pick-up assignment away.  Remembering Rome Douglas still makes Brad Otton shiver at night.

 

RB (B)

Getting Chad Pierson back for the stretch run of the season is a big undercover plus for the Trojan offense.  This will allow Malaefou MacKenzie to express his athletic ability with the ball instead of cutting off the back side of zone run plays.  When given the opportunity to play tailback versus the Cardinal "Future Fo" as he is affectionately called because of his uncanny clairvoyant gifts, delivered some big plays and a physical touchdown run.  Justin Fargas had some difficulty getting his footing and I think it's because the cuts he makes are still too sharp for a man who has had reconstructive bone surgery.  Full football recovery from that kind of injury in an endeavor that takes a few years.  Look for Justin to get his feet under him as the season winds down.  That being said, he's probably the best straight ahead running tailback in the conference.  Sultan McCullough added a touchdown late and was not really a substantial factor in the SC run game only squeezing out 14 yards on 7 carries.  Sultan needs a big run against the Sun Devils to regain some of the confidence that made him so effective earlier in the season. 

 

WR (A)

Keary Colbert's star shined the brightest among the talented trio of Trojan wide receivers with five catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.  Keary's skills are beginning to become more sharp and showcased week in and week out.  Teams must account for Kareem Kelly's speed, even if he's not being superproductive, so Keary and Mike Williams are allowed to go one on one against the inexperienced secondaries which seem to be scattered around the Pac-10 this season.  Though hurt by a left ankle sprain late in the game and pulled out of action, Mike Williams had what is becoming his usual type of dominating performance with eight catches for 94 yards.  His ability to position himself away from defensive backs comes so naturally that it looks easy to fans and coaches.  It cannot be taken lightly that his performance has been phenomenal and will probably not been seen again for years to come at any university.  As a true freshman Mike Williams has become the best receiver in the Pac-10.  Alex Holmes re-emerged in the Trojan offense with three catches for 57 yards, the most impressive of which was a post route that Alex seemed to get down the field pretty quickly on (even if he looks like Super Mario running down the field….pick up your legs Alex). 

 

OL (B)

Losing Lenny Vandermade to a bicep injury could hurt the Trojan OL down the stretch.   If Lenny can't get back then Eric Torres will be playing left guard. Though Eric is more comfortable at LG and does an ample job, Vandermade is the best Trojan offensive lineman and anchors down a left side which is the Trojans most dominant side.  The rest of the guys played very well and a big shout out to Derek Graf at center doing a good job in his senior season.  I'm still waiting on a call from Allan Graf (famous director and character actor) to make the Petros movie.  Winston Justice, I believe, received his first holding penalty of the year.  That does not overshadow what a remarkable job the true freshman at right tackle has done.  Most of the time the only place you'll see a true freshman on a football team in the offensive line is on the bench or at guard.  Out there on an island at tackle is tough for anybody, especially a young player, and Winston should be commended and hopefully will be an anchor on what is shaping up to be a very talented Trojan offensive line in the future.

 

DL (B+)

These guys played their usual best and we saw a lot more out of Van Brown, Doyal Butler, LaJuan Ramsey, Jay Bottom and Anthony Daye and they all seem to play with the same motor.  Though Bernard Riley can't rush the passer like Shaun Cody (not too many people can) he's very stout against the run and I believe he is in game shape now and is fully recovered, though he is a little heavier, from his ACL injury last season.  The Trojans will need Bernard against that UCLA offensive line which is pushing people around all over the Pac-10.  Omar Nazel is still hampered a bit by a sternum injury that he suffered versus Oregon State and like Polamalu Omar is playing through excruciating pain and is playing well. Kenechi Udeze is looking more and more athletic every week snatching his first pick out of the air by tipping it to himself.  He has developed into a fine person and football player and will probably be among the Pac-10's best defensive linemen next season.

 

LB (B)

The Trojans tackling was not stellar in the first quarter.  One of two things can be blamed for this; 1) a hangover (no pun intended) from the bye week which makes you rusty for actual field play or 2) an entirely subdued and basically void Stanford fan base that makes you feel like you are playing in a vacant meadow.  Stanford was able to run the ball on the Trojans early because Pete Carroll was attacking Kyle Matter and they hit a few delay running plays with Kerry Carter looking good running the ball but they hunkered down and got their bearings about them.  Matt Grootegoed has become the Trojans star on the front seven.  His sure tackling, assignment sound style of play is a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10.  Adding three sacks with minimal celebration, look for Grootegoed to be sent on more blitzes in the next few weeks.

 

DB (B+)

The highly anticipated Teyo Johnson vs Marcell Allmond match-up was not very impressive because Johnson, having a hard time getting off against bump coverage and lining up mostly in the slot, was pretty much a non-factor all night at the Farm. The other highly anticipated Luke Powell vs Darrell Rideaux match-up was won by the Trojan defense as a whole by getting to freshman QB (and not quite ready for prime time player) Kyle Matter.  When you're dealing with a quarterback who is having a hard time distributing the ball and is only a freshman you can do a lot of things with your secondary as far as blitzing and disguising coverages that can make the day an excruciating hell for the youngster.  Troy Polamalu played with an injury you would never really know because of his uncanny ability to close and hit and tackle like nobody I've ever seen.  His hit on Teyo Johnson that drew a flag was the highlight of the day for me.  Troy played like a savage on the field and I mean that in the best way possible.

 

Special teams (A)

Tommy Malone's little body delivered some big punts averaging 42 yards per kick and Ryan Kileen was a perfect 7 for 7 on extra points.  What more can you ask for?  The kickoff coverage team is becoming a concern for me as it has been a concern and a thorn in the foot of Kennedy Pola all football season.  Squib kicks, pooch kicks and Lee Webb flying through the air, none of these things seem to be able to stifle Pac-10 return teams against the Trojans.  This is something that must be corrected in the coming weeks or else USC can lose the important field position battle in the games against ASU, UCLA and Notre Dame. 

 

Coaching (A)

These are good coaches.  Sometimes it's tough to coach against a team you know doesn't have the personnel to beat you but the SC coaches remained focused and proved once again that they know how to handle a bye week. The Stanford staff was like an abyss for fired SC coaches (Morton, Banker, Moses and Sanford) who all once guided Trojan players.  I was most depressed though about former USC walk-on phenom tight end Gurjot Dhaliwal crossing over and becoming Stanford's assistant director of film.  How could you do it to me, G-man?

 

Coming up for the Trojans is a recently humbled Arizona State squad who looks every bit as beatable after dropping two straight to Washington State and Cal. Dirk Koetter brings in an immobile QB with a talented receiving corps that should be easily handled by an efficient Trojan defense.  Watch out for Terrell Suggs though, he is the best pass rusher in the country and could put a wrench in the spokes of Carson's Heisman campaign. Now that the USC road show is grounded in LA until the holiday season, I'm going to try and make amends for the weekender by going to the Greek Orthodox Church at least once and going to bed early at least twice.  I'm afraid that even with these modifications in my lifestyle, recovery from the weekender is totally unattainable.  See you next week.  Fight On. Petros.

 

Petros Papadakis is a former USC tailback and the sideline reporter for Trojans football on KMPC-1540. He also hosts the Trojans pregame show and 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.

 


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