Coach's Corner

I don't want to go out on a limb here, but I really think the Trojans will come back to earth this coming season. Their chances of three-peating as National Champions could be shattered by losses within their own league.

After having done some analysis, I really do believe they will lose two and maybe three Pac-10 games. With the offensive brain trust reinventing itself, it could lead to Matt Lienart getting hurt and not winding up as the number one pick in the draft.

I know, I know, they have won 33 of their last 34 games and Matt Leinart has throw for over 7,000 yards and 71 touchdowns and they have Reggie Bush who isn't even their best back.

Bush had 908 yards rushing while LenDale White had 1,103.

They still have tons of talent and there is no question Coach Pete Carroll is an excellent coach. I just think that they will get surprised by at least two teams in their own league.

Leinart, receiver Dwayne Jarrett, all purpose Reggie Bush on offense and safety Darnell Bing are already anointed as All-Americans and the Trojans have already been picked by just about everyone to become the greatest dynasty in recent times. Hardly anyone will even pick against them for winning the national title, let alone in the Pac.

Heck, some publications even rank three of the incoming freshmen as the top three in the whole league.

It's generally understood that the Trojans are head and shoulders above everyone else in the Pac-10. They seem to have an unbelievable number of fine players returning . . .BUT, it's not who they have back, but it's who they will be missing that makes me think they are vulnerable.

Let's start with no Norm Chow. I don't care what anyone says, that man had a lot to do with their success and his moving to the pros will be impossible to replace. I saw him do it against us when he was at BYU and I've watched him call great games since he moved to the Trojans. In terms of play selection, he calls a masterful game, and, he is one of the finest offensive minds in college football for the last 30 years. I believe he was the subject of institutional racism at the college level and finally took his game to the money level after he couldn't get a sniff as a head coach at a division one school.

Heck, with only 3 out of 117schools having an African-American coach, nobody was ready to hire a man of Asian descent. Maybe as president of the university, but as the head football coach, no way. What a bunch of crap, but that's where we are.

Even the progressive thinking Stanford passed on the chance to hire Chow. The USC Trojans will lose a couple of games this coming season simply because of losing Norm Chow. Just watch.

Also missing this coming season will be defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, Ed Orgeron, who will take his shot as a head coach by taking over the Ole Miss program. Then throw in (or better throw out) their offensive line coach, Tim Davis who is heading to the Miami Dolphins, and quarterback's coach, Carl Smith, who is heading to the Jaguars to work with ex-Huskies Reggie Williams, Khalif Barnes and Rich Alexis.

That's almost half the coaching staff, and in particular, both line coaches. I have always maintained that staff continuity is essential to winning in college football. I can't believe that their collective absence will not be missed and that the Trojans will not miss a beat.

Also missing will be some awesome defensive players starting with their two inside defensive tackles, Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson. They were dominating defensive linemen at the college level and literally controlled the line of scrimmage. They are going to be tough to replace, as will be their best linebackers, Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed, who both moved on to the NFL as well.

The Trojans also have to replace their fine kicker, Ryan Kileen, and may be looking to a true freshman to win a close game for them. Remember the last game they lost was by a field goal to Cal.

Their schedule could work against them as well as they open up playing the Rainbow Warriors in Hawaii, and that could be a scare. This game also means the Trojans will be one of the only teams in college playing 12 games. They also play non-conference games against Notre Dame and the always dangerous Fresno State later in the season.

After opening in Hawaii, they then take two weeks off before hosting Arkansas. Those two games should get them two wins but then they hit the road for back to back games against the Ducks in Eugene and the Sun Devils in Tempe. They also play Cal in Berkley and Washington in Seattle.

Somebody is going to get them and I'm hoping one of the two losses is in Seattle. I know that sounds ridiculous but I can promise you the worst team in Washington's history played the Trojans really tough in the first half last year. I was on the sidelines and the Huskies simply out hit them. They had the Trojans on their heels and they were getting hit in the face.

I know the score was 38-0 but for the whole first half the toughest team on the field was not the Trojans.

Another factor that nobody wants to talk about is injuries. The Trojans were flat out lucky when it came to injuries during 2004. Can they continue that run of good luck? Odds are that somebody is going to go down this year, and, if it's Leinart or Bush, then look out.

This team has too much talent to slip too far. Still, they are going to have to be somewhat lucky to get the three-peat. If they do lose a game or two it should not be a surprise. It just gets tougher in that third year. Then there is always the chance of a major scandal erupting in LA just as it seems to do whenever someone starts winning too much. Their violations of the 90's have all been forgotten, but remember that their alumni are extremely involved. Their kids drive some of the nicest cars in the league.

History tells us that Miami, Alabama, Washington and most recently Tennessee and Ohio State all experienced intense investigations following their assent to the top of college football.

The Trojans have it all rolling right now but they haven't played a game yet. They have won 22 in a row but, if I'm not mistaken, we won 23 in a row before the stuff hit the fan.

They will be beaten, and they will be beaten this year, and it could be two or three times. The Trojans have always been a measuring stick for anyone playing in this conference. Essentially you have to beat both LA schools to win the Pac-10.

As a quick reminder to you all, Coach Willingham has done that before, and so have the Washington Huskies.

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