Weekly Musings – Virginia Edition

I have mixed feelings this beautiful Sunday afternoon.  On one hand, with a 2-0 record and a reasonably easy schedule for a couple more weeks, there is reason to hope that this extraordinary coaching staff can fix the things that are plaguing USC’s football team in time.  However, to be very realistic, we do not look like a very good team right now.  One of the indisputable defining characteristics of the Pete Carroll era was that (with the sole exception of 2009), the teams got dramatically better as the seasons progressed.  Unless I am forgetting, Pete never lost a single game in the month of November until last year.  It is going to be very interesting to see if this team can go down that same path.  But anyone who has watched Oregon and Stanford play this year and also watched USC play can not be feeling good about USC’s chances in the conference.  Regardless, we play week by week.  So here we go.

– Yes, it was a tough game to watch at the Coliseum.  I positively hate the 7:30 pm start time.  And it was bizarre to see an offense that looked so good against Hawaii look so bad, and then a defense that looked so bad against Hawaii actually look okay.

– But nothing was okay on either side of the ball as it pertains to penalties.  If the discipline of this team does not improve, particularly as manifested in the penalties, I honestly think we could go 6-7 or 7-6.  There were a couple calls that were pretty questionable, but 13 penalties is 13 penalties, and it has to improve.

– Barkley got a little help from Robert Woods, but for the most part his receivers gave him little help last night.  Even with that said Matt had a fine game.  But the dropped balls were quite surprising – particularly from Ronald Johnson.

– CJ Gable tweeted after the game that he just needs to hang in there and trust that good things will happen for him.  I know this young man is upset he is not playing, and I can only imagine how hard it must be.  He is a very good football player.  I just hope CJ will follow his own advice, because good things will happen for him if he hangs in there and keeps his faith.

– We now go to Minnesota for a game that was not supposed to be against a team this bad.  But a loss to South Dakota is grounds for one of the rare events in all of sports, but an event that does not take place often enough if you ask me: Firing a coach on the spot.  Minnesota did not do so, but I would have.  I can also tell you several other instances over the years that warranted it.

– Anyone who is surprised that Alabama beat up Penn State in Tuscaloosa is being disingenuous.  Penn State is a Big-10 school, which means they are not very good, and they have a true freshman quarterback.  Alabama has the only two things you need to win in college football: A very good defense, and a very good running game.

– It will be interesting to see if USC (east) – the Gamecocks of South Carolina – are as good as they look so far.  I think that running back is legit and Spurrier is the real deal.  The SEC looks quite mediocre so far (LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida have been disappointing), so South Carolina may be the best possibility for the SEC to regain some of their old prominence.  Every conference has one outstanding team (as the SEC does in Alabama), but I am not sure what else is there so far this year.

– Speaking of Tennessee, does everyone understand that they have now lost to a Pac-10 team for four years in a row?  Oregon literally went in to their house and decimated them.  As USC did with Arkansas and Auburn, the SEC has never looked so impressive when they were forced the play the best of the Pac-10.  But Tennessee lost to the Pac-10’s ninth best team last year.

– Speaking of UCLA, I did not see the game but it does not look good on paper.  At least us Trojans who have long said (and been validated in saying) that Norm Chow was the most overrated assistant coach in history can now point out that coaching Phillip Rivers, Jim McMahon, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart as a way of making you look like a better play-caller than coaching Kevin Prince and Kevin Craft does.

– I am not saying this for effect – I think it is totally true based on the way some people were beginning to talk about the Florida State program: I think that loss yesterday was their worst loss since they were a good team back in the 1990’s.  Just absolutely demoralizing.

– Ohio State may be legit.  I haver a feeling here.  The jury is still out, but I am not ready to say they are the annual fraud they have proven to be.  We shall see.  Part of the issue always was their extraordinary lack of speed relative to other elite teams (a deficiency that was hidden unless they were playing USC or LSU or some other good team).  But this year’s team looks fast.

– Speaking of speed, USC looks slow.  Am I the only one noticing this?

– The first Monday Morning Quarterback of the Lane Kiffin era is tomorrow.  I will have a report mid-week if he comes in with as much passion and bravado as Pete Carroll did in 2001.  Lane’s personality is not like Pete’s, so I am curious to see his approach.  It will be interesting.  Lane will do great.

– Dillon Baxter and Robert Woods are going to be special players at USC; I am sure of it.  I do wonder at this point if Kyle Prater will be redshirting as has been speculated. 

– You heard it hear first: Oklahoma wins the Big-12.  Alabama wins the SEC.  Ohio State wins the Big-10.  And the ACC cancels their entire football schedule.  Ay yi yi.  James Madison????

– This kid at Michigan is a fantastic player but I can’t see how he can do it all by himself all year.  Maybe I am wrong.  But as a USC fan who lives in Pac-10 country, I am still going to say what any objective lover of all college football already knows: It is really, really good for college football to have a competitive and successful Michigan program; it is not good for college football to have a sub-500 Michigan program.

Okay.  I will let it go here.  It is a pretty slow week next week since ESPN College Game Day is going to a CLEMSON game!!  Let’s just hope USC has a productive week of practice and can go out and beat Minnesota at Minnesota by more than South Dakota just beat Minnesota at Minnesota.  The season is young.  And we have Ed Orgeron on our sideline.