And for good reason. About the only positive from the Cougar side of the field was that quarterback Kevin Lopina didn't have to leave the game with injury. Of course, when you hand the ball off 37 times out of 46 offensive plays, and secure just four first downs, there's not a lot of harm's way to worry about.
How bad was it? This Cougar squad failed to do something that every team Cougar team, both good and bad, has done since 1984. Score. The nation's second-longest active scoring streak and the fourth longest streak in history were ended on the same day that the Cougars recorded their worst shutout loss in school history.
|LOPINA COMPLETED 6-OF-9 PASSES FOR 28 YARDS AND ONE INT.|
"You know, we've had so many injuries on offense. Our tailbacks are out, we've had quarterbacks out, we've got offensive linemen out. You're facing a great defense that has only give up six points in the second half all their games of the season," said Wulff.
The coach said his staff had studied Oregon State's success against USC and tried to replicate it, but added that staying healthy was job one. The quest to keep Lopina out of the fray even found him going in motion on one play so center Kenny Alfred could snap the ball directly to running back Chantz Staden (who was promptly stuff at the line of scrimmage).
Wide receiver Brandon Gibson, the Pac-10's leading receiver, was catch-less until late in the game, when he grabbed one for no gain. He has now caught a ball in 31 straight games, tying him for the longest streak in the Pac-10 and 12th-longest in the nation.
"It's so frustrating," he said. "We understand that the offensive line and the quarterback are valuable but they're a little injured right now, so we're going to do what we can for the team...I think we're going to implement a lot more stuff over this bye week for me. I like to have the ball in my hands, and I think I can make plays and help us get yards and points. This coming week we're going to improve on a lot of stuff."
The star Cougar wideout took advantage of every opportunity, including a couple tunrs on punt coverage for the first time in his career, where he made a great tackle that he finished with just one hand on the returner.
"When you're fighting, and digging and scratching, but you really don't have anything to fight and dig and scratch with … it was kinda hard to do anything …Hopefully next time we're going to go out and compete...and take more chances," Gibson said, alluding to the fact only nine passes were attempted in the game.
Stadium announcer Glenn Johnson's signature line -- "And that's another Cougar first down" – wasn't to be in the first half. After two quarters of play, the Cougs had exactly one first down vs. 20 by the Trojans.
In a season that has seen offensive injuries in epic proportions, the Cougars on Saturday started their sixth different combo of hosses this season.
The Cougs have a bye next weekend and then travel to Stanford on Nov. 1 before returning home Nov. 8 to face Arizona.