The challenge gets no easier for the Trojans as they try to bounce back this week against the high-powered Oregon Ducks at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Ducks are coming into Saturday's matchup against USC with a multi-dimensional spread offense that should provide a real test for the USC defense that is coming off it's worst performance of the early season.
"So Oregon coming in, coming off a huge win and some big, big games," Pete Carroll said about the Ducks. "Throwing up 300-plus yards of rushing after we follow up a game, we didn't play the run very well, really makes it hard on us.
"They have a very wide open attack. It is really kind of the epitome of the spread offense with the quarterback being featured as part of the running attack."
The Oregon offense has been nearly unstoppable, despite suffering numerous injuries to their quarterbacks, and has averaged an amazing 52 points per game.
"I think it's because of the nature of their running game that they've been able to get by with the young guys," Carroll said of the Ducks quarterback situation.
The Ducks rushing attack features two very talented running backs in the shifty Jeremiah Johnson and the physical LaGarrette Blount.
"Jeremiah Johnson's always been a good player. The new kid, Blount, coming in from junior college has really given them another element," said Pete Carroll. "Jonathan Stewart was a heck of a football player. But this guy runs maybe more physical, in a more physical nature about him.
"So they have the flash of the perimeter game, and they have him banging away at you. So it's a real nice attack."
Blount, is a 6-2, 240-pound juco transfer from Mississippi CC, who has had an immediate impact averaging 96.2 yards per game. The powerful tailback leads the Pac-10 in rushing touchdowns with eight.
USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt talked about the unique challenges his defense will face this Saturday when they try and stop the spread offense.
"It's like playing against twelve guys. You have to defend the field because of the passing game and then you have to play the option football," Holt said. "The quarterback is also a viable runner so it's like playing twelve guys."
Sanchez Feeling Bumps and Bruises
Mark Sanchez remembers hearing Matt Leinart and John David Booty talk about how sore their bodies felt after they got a few games into the season and he could never quite relate to the quarterbacks complaints.
"I remember being a freshman and seeing those guys a little nicked up during the season and being like ‘come on man you're playing quarterback, this is easy'. But I know exactly where they are coming from now," Sanchez joked.
After getting knocked around in the Trojans 27-21 loss against Oregon State, Sanchez said he is now starting to feel the various bumps and bruises that come with being a starting quarterback.
"It's a long season and I am starting to feel how Matt (Leinart) used to feel and how John David (Booty) used to feel," Sanchez admitted. "You are never really going to be 100 percent, and those aches and pains are here."
Carroll Reacts to Kiffin Firing
After practice on Tuesday, USC Head Coach Pete Carroll expressed his unhappiness about the way the Raiders handled the firing of Lane Kiffin, a former assistant coach under Carroll at USC.
"Honestly, I really couldn't be more disappointed for the game of football," Pete Carroll said. "I thought today was really a dark moment. To go to that level in this situation, I think it hurts football and the NFL and coaching. It wasn't necessary.
"The owner gets to do what he wants and he made his choice. There is nothing wrong with that. I don't fault anything there, but just the manner in which all the finger pointing and name-calling and all that stuff was not informed and seemed out of touch.
"Lane Kiffin is a tremendous football coach."
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden