Petros Report Card - ASU review

UCLA is next and what else can be said? To me and most other Trojan faithful the Bruin is the most despicable kind of person that you can possibly be. The Bruin spikes up his hair with gel and dances at Maloney's all night to pop hits. The Bruin voted 50 times for Justin to win American Idol. The Bruin lives in Westwood. Enough said. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

Petros Papadakis will speak at the WeAreSC dinner this Wednesday at Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro.  Click here for details


Only two unexplainably huge football games remain on the Trojans schedule and now that Arizona State and Stanford have been dispensed in a workmanlike fashion without any of the catastrophes that cynical Trojan fans expected I can say a few things I've wanted to get out all season.  I can't emphasize enough how happy I am for guys like Omar Nazel, Malaefou MacKenzie, Carson Palmer, Sultan McCullough, Bernard Riley, Troy Polamalu, Mike Pollard and others that they are part of a nationally recognized winner.  Believe me, I know firsthand what it's like to be involved in a losing season at a place that will accept nothing less than victory like USC.  The Trojans "Hackett guys" have seen the worst side of college football and now they are being treated to the best and no one is more deserving.  At USC victories mean the city of Los Angeles is your oyster but losing shuts every door on Sunset and these guys have had many doors shut in their faces over the years.  God bless Pete Carroll and his staff, they have brought back smiles and a swagger in the walk of Trojan fans, players and former players everywhere.  Of course, my weekend was not without the personal humiliation that is synonymous with being Petros Papadakis.  After the weekender I made a pact with myself to be low profile and concentrate on my work during the stretch run of the football season.  However, after a couple of rousing dominoes match-ups with some anonymous players after the ASU game I decided to drop these guys off at the Row and thought I might be able to peep out some of the homecoming festivities from the safety of my sport utility vehicle.  My cover was blown when some 19 year old girls asked me if I was that older guy on TV that their dads watched every week, once again humiliated I drove back to my cave in San Pedro.  Here are this week's grades:


QB (A-)

Carson has minimized the mistakes in his game and in the whole offense.  His ability to be consistently stellar every week has changed the complexion of the entire program. Carson never had a problem putting up big numbers, it was doing so without making mistakes that hurt SC.  This year he has been showing us the evidence of his talent without throwing interceptions or taking too many unnecessary sacks.  Carson did not have a Heisman type of day with a little over 200 yards in the air but he was good enough to win convincingly and even added a short yardage rushing touchdown (the type of thing I personally love to see for selfish reasons).  He made an excellent decision by making a beautiful outlet pass to Fargas that went for a big gain.  Early in his career Carson may not have settled for the outlet pass and instead he might have tried to force it downfield but this time when he got in trouble he stayed patient and found his outlet.  The next two weeks are what will define what has so far been a great year for CP, it looks like he is primed and ready. 


RB (B+)

Justin Fargas continues to play like a man possessed, racking up 125 hard yards into not a great ASU defense but a hard hitting one.  Sultan McCullough had the long run that we needed him to have and I believe his confidence is back for the UCLA game.  He only had four carries on the game and that is probably not enough.  However, with Fargas attacking the way he does, that type of back needs to carry the ball to be successful, especially in the 3rd and 4th quarter.  This is sort of a quandary that Coach Pola is in for tailback playing time.  Malaefou MacKenzie was relatively quiet but look for him to step up, he always has big games against UCLA.  Chad Pierson got some more playing time and looked comfortable and ready to go.  I know I keep saying it but look for Chad to be a big factor in the coming weeks, we need him to block. 


WR (B+)

Despite an early touchdown, Mike Williams looked a little lackadaisical and/or gimpy on that left ankle but he did complete that nice pass to Keary Colbert that even I could have made.  He may need another week to recover, I hope he doesn't practice too much this week to rest up for the UCLA game.  Kareem Kelly had one catch and his production is down, it's funny though because when you see him with the ball this year he looks very, very confident.  I hope that he is a bigger factor in the weeks to come.  Keary Colbert has become USC's most consistent receiver and plays like a technician every week.  I can only hope the best for Keary and his impending NFL career, he works very hard and deserves everything he gets.  Alex Holmes continues to be a mainstay in the Trojan offense.  As he gets more and more comfortable catching the football at the college level (though it's come a little late in his opinion) the more opposing defenses will have to look out for him.  A good run and three extremely capable receivers have opened things up for Alex to become a substantial factor in the Trojan offense.  It's also kind of fun to watch people try to tackle him while he just stands there like the Colossus of Rhodes. 


OL (A-)

Norm Chow did some interesting things with his offensive line this week.  He started pulling tackles and running weak counter plays utilizing Justin Fargas' ability to hit the line of scrimmage with big momentum. Winston Justice and Jacob Rogers both looked pretty good on a couple pulls and in control as they were running downfield.  Fargas did a good job of getting up behind the pulls and punishing the Arizona State defense.  This is the kind of physical football that rounds out a great offense.  Eric Torres filled in well for Lenny Vandermade though Lenny is basically irreplaceable on anybody's o-line.  Eric is comfortable at guard and gets a good push in the run game.  He is a valuable asset to the Trojan line because he can play many positions and do them all consistently well.  Holding Terrell Suggs to only ½ sack, a player who plays with an unbelievable motor and passion for the game, was a major victory for a USC line that would have been used up by such a talented guy in the past….remember Andre Carter and our seven step drop passing game.  Give them an A minus this week because they gave up a sack, I'm getting pretty greedy. 


DL (A)

In Shaun Cody's absence, Bernard Riley has been very stout against the run and seems maniacal when rushing the passer (though he doesn't usually get there in time).  Kenechi Udeze had a scare with a neck stinger but was right back in on the next series.  He's grown up to become a very, very tough player and the most physically intimidating Trojan on Coach Orgeron's defensive line.  Omar Nazel is still playing with pain but a couple sacks make him feel a lot better, he's still the most improved and best turnaround story for USC this season. 


LB (A)

Pete Carroll decided to bring the house with people blitzing from everywhere and it confused a seemingly afraid, gangly and uncoordinated Andrew Walter although he did have a pretty strong arm.  In the absence of Shaun Cody, Matt Grootegoed has emerged as the Trojans best front seven player….imagine that because he's really a safety.  Melvin Simmons also looked good blitzing and he's improved his play in the passing game with a nice interception.  He closes very well and has really solidified the linebacking corps for USC. Though they do remove Mike Pollard in nickel situations, he's a very good MLB and nobody (I mean nobody) can run on the Trojans this year.  Arizona State's run game was completely and totally non-existent throughout the entire afternoon.  When you shut down somebody's run game and force them to pass 50 times or more, you can almost guarantee yourself a victory and a lot of turnovers.



DB (B)

Handling the Pac-10's best receiver didn't seem too hard, except for when Justin Wyatt gave up a touchdown right before half on a wheel route which is forgivable because he's a young guy and a pretty athletic and aggressive cornerback who should be good in the future.  DeShaun Hill turned in his best game with an interception which was a helluva play.  DeShaun's consistency has anchored what was supposed to be a troubled USC secondary which has now turned into a strength.  Nobody thinks of Marcell Allmond as a wide receiver anymore, he is a physical and competitive corner that deserves every accolade that the secondary gets this season.  He has taken control of a position that was a huge concern early in the season and cost the Trojans maybe a couple victories at Washington State and Kansas State.  Marcell has made quite a turnaround from last year's turmoil and he should be recognized for that.  Troy Polamalu at times looked extremely hampered by his ankle so his ability to move laterally has been compromised though he can still close, go straight and tackle well.  I will take a one-legged Polamalu over any safety in college football today though I do have some issues with the game day program close-up face shot of Troy as  I was lobbying to get myself on the cover for years with a very similar shot.  I don't understand why he got chosen and not me but those eyebrows seemed plucked and ready to go.    


Special teams (A-)

The kicking game was fine.  Ryan Kileen made two field goals, one of which was very impressive from 41 yards.  It looks like he's ready to go if the Trojans need him to beat UCLA, let's keep our fingers crossed. The kickoff coverage team seemed to improve.  If you ever have a chance watch Lee Webb (#35) run down on kickoff you will see him fly through the air like a shot putted bowling ball.  Malone hit the longest Trojan punt I've ever seen at the Coliseum, unfortunately it blew right past his coverage and a long return dulled the moment. 


Coaching (A)

To have your team ready and able to handle two mediocre teams with the UCLA and Notre Dame games (which will draw huge national attention) looming in the background is a great feat for any coaching staff.  The ASU team, though not as good as USC, was not a foregone conclusion to lose to the Trojans on Saturday.  Carroll game planned, adjusted and did everything he had to do to win the game and get on to the next week.  Not enough can be said about him and his staff and the work they have done this season. 


OK, UCLA is next and what else can be said?  To me and most other Trojan faithful the Bruin is the most despicable kind of person that you can possibly be.  The Bruin is the type of guy who only wants to pay for exactly what he ordered at a group dinner.  The Bruin writes checks at the supermarket.  The Bruin wears a turtleneck.  The Bruin voted 50 times for Justin to win American Idol.  The Bruin spikes up his hair with gel and dances at Maloney's all night to pop hits.  The Bruin lives in Westwood.  Enough said.  I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.  UCLA sucks and I despise them more than I hate sitcoms and, trust me folks, that's a lot of hatred.  This is the week that our pride is on the line and win or lose we must live with the results until next fall.  Thank god that this year we have a team representing us that we can be proud of and trust completely.  Go for it guys.  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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