03 Sep Weekly Musings – Season Opener Edition/Hawaii
I barely know where to start. Like most Trojans, I have rarely been as excited for a football season as I am this year. From the day we walked off the Coliesum field last year with a 50-0 score on the board against the hated Bruins, to the day Matt Barkley gave us a Christmas gift announcing his return, to the day Lane Kiffin closed out his unfathomably impressive recruiting class (only less unfathomable than what he has done already for the 2013 recruiting class), every member of the Trojan family has been waiting for this day. Matt said his reason for returning was “unfinished business”, and there is not a member of the Trojan family that does not know what he is talking about. The sanctions handed down against USC were a detestable laughing stock the day the news came, but have only become unbearably perverse since then as team after team after team has committed actions FAR worse than what was alleged against USC. And last year, when this team shocked the world by beating Notre Dame on the road (handily), keeping Oregon out of the title game by beating them in Eugene (you’re welcome, Alabama), and closing out with a 50-0 shellacking of the team across town that arrogantly declared our monopoly over. Two years later, the bowl ban of the sanctions is over, UCLA is 1-12 against USC in the last 13 years, and USC is putting together recruiting classes that Les Miles and Nick Saban are jealous of. Yes, we have “unfinished business”, and the season of Matt Barkley’s senior year got underway Saturday night in front of an absolutely electric crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
I will say a few things about the season ahead … I, for one, think an undefeated season is not going to be easy. That is for no other reason than the fact that it barely ever happens. I do not believe the two teams playing in the fictitious BcS championship game have both been undefeated since USC played Texas in 2005. But it is possible. Much of this has already been written, but my question marks coming into the year are:
(1) Will we have the pass rush we need to have?
(2) Are our back seven as good as they seemed in the SECOND HALF of last year’s season?
(3) Even with four out of five offensive linemen back, will the loss of Matt Kalil hurt us more than we know?
I do not have a lot of questions about the skill players Coach Lane Kiffin has put together, or the firepower potential of this offense. We need to stay healthy, but we have the nucleus of a championship team.
So, the Hawaii game. I suppose it doesn’t get much better than having your very first play from scrimmage of the season go 75 yards for a touchdown. The Coliseum absolutely exploded. Frankly, I don’t have a lot to say about the game. Hawaii was out-matched, we played very well, and the few folks who are bitching and moaning about this and that do not deserve a response (I am now more irritated at the people who respond to these children than I am at the children themselves). A 39-point win where Kiffin probably showed us 25% of the playbook, and we played DEEP into the reserves the entire second half, is not the kind of game that should make anyone cry. Marqise Lee is going to be dominant this season. Robert Woods looks healthy, agile, and ready. A couple guys missed a catch here and there, but basically this offense is going to be stacked. The defense is going to force turnovers this year, is quick and athletic, and hopefully will win the battles they need to win at the line of scrimmage. I can not wait.
I did not see a lot of other football action this weekend as I was among the first at the Coliseum Saturday morning and was engaged in conversation throughtout the day. It appears as if Alabama had a strong game but that was to be expected. All of the talk about pre-season rankings, and who should be #1 now, and blah blah blah is boring beyond words. Let’s wait five or six weeks and see who is a contender and who is a pretender (anyone else remember the pre-season hype on Florida State last year, or the lack of pre-season hype for the team that I think was the best in the country last year – Oklahoma State?). If USC wins the Pac-12 and goes to the Rose Bowl this year (I do not care about that fake BcS nonsense), I couldn’t care less if they call us #1 or #119 throughout September.
Unfinished business indeed. I will have much more to say next weekend, and can not wait to get back to our Monday luncheons with CLK. The Trojans have proven the validity of our Fight On mantra just to be where we are now. You donm’t hear any of the loudmouth jealous idiots bad-talking Coach Lane Kiffin any more. We have done what Trojans do – persevered through a period of darkness. Now it’s time to reap the rewards. Bring on the Orangemen, and fight on Trojan family.