USC vs. Notre Dame

It’s not going to be easy to write these musings. I may be resolved to the fact that this team is going to struggle, but I LOvE beating Notre Dame, and this year’s Notre Dame team is so insanely beatable, and this game was so painfully winnable, that to lose this game, and lose it the way we did, just hurts.

– The members of the Trojan family who are bothering to dialogue with those inside or outside the Trojan family who say “the sanctions don’t matter” would be better off trying to get a four-year old to understand Einstein’s theory of relativity. Let me put it differently: The people saying that “the sanctions don’t matter” are to be taken as seriously as you would take the word of any other dope off the street. It is an unfathomable and utterly moronic school of thought, and not really up to the level worthy of adult dialogue. In fact, if the guy doing your taxes says, “I don’t think the sanctions have anything to do with USC’s struggles”, I would recommend finding someone else to do your taxes.

– I do believe that the spirit Coach O brought into the Coliseum for the Arizona game was infectious and exciting, and I do believe (still) that this coaching staff can make the best of what has been a very difficult season. However, they are coaching a roster of talent that is far less than anyone in Troy seems willing to admit, and I mostly am referring to our woefully inadequate offensive line

– Su’a Cravens hit to keep the Irish from scoring on 4th down was a thing of beauty (as all goal line stands are). Sadly, Su’a’s highlight plays stopped there

– Likewise, the offense went on a 99-yard scoring drive that featured all the power football I want USC to be known for. A couple third down conversions (in fact, the only ones of the night), strong running, and an impressive moving of the chains all the way down field. I thought we were headed to a blowout win after those first two possessions

– The personal foul call on Dion Bailey was a major play in the game, and it was an utterly ridiculous call. It had a big impact on the rest of the half

– I believe no play affected the final score of the game more than Marqise Lee’s inability to catch a perfectly catchable ball thrown to him in the end zone. That play alone cost us the point differential in the game. Of course, the missed field goals didn’t help either

– It was nice to see Soma with two catches, which I believe surpassed his 2012 totals by, well, 2 catches

– Our defense did not play well in the second quarter, but they did everything they needed to in the second half to win the game. Lamar Dawson’s sack was positively violent, and we made the plays defensively that one would think would win the football game

– Any team with our third down conversion stats on the season doesn’t even deserve a 4-3 record. It is stunning how poor we are in converting third downs, and it certainly cost us the football game. The quarterback is not good enough to convert long third down plays with any consistency, and the offensive line is not enabling us to have short yardage third down plays

– Some of the holding calls on our offensive line were flat out nonsense, but for the most part the offensive line was holding because they were outplayed – and badly. The lack of physicality up front is the #1 issue plaguing this football team, and there is no depth, none, behind the starters.

– The kicker can not be trusted, and I don’t know what anyone wanted Coach O to do on the long fourth down call. We will not win games that require made 45-yard kicks to do so. We absolutely have to open up leads.

– I hate to blame the refs for anything, but worse than some of the phantom calls on us, the no-PI-call on 2nd and 3 late in the game was inexcusable, and sealed the win for Notre Dame

– Cody Kessler is trying his best out there, and it is fine if Trojan whiners want to complain about whose fault it is that he has not gotten better, but he just is not a top shelf Division I quarterback, or even close to one. He is capable of being crisp and precise, and he is a good athlete, but he is brutally slow in his reads, and never seems to let the speed of the game synchronize with the speed of his brain and body. Wittek has a cannon of an arm, but is woefully inaccurate. Cody is our guy, and I support him, but we have been spoiled in the QB position at USC for over ten years, and this year we are seeing what mediocrity at this position does to a team.

– So what does a team with a star Wide Receiver who is playing like he has no desire to go to the NFL (Marqise Lee), a mediocre QB (Cody), an awful pass-protecting offensive line, two star Tight Ends both out with injuries (Grimble and Telfer), and a true challenge in finding a rhythm offensively do??? They run the ball. They use Silas Redd and the stable of other good backs (the ones who are not injured) to pound the ball and control the clock. They mix in play action from time to time to utilize Agholar. They hope some of the other receivers who are not known (Blackwell and Rogers) can make some plays. But they run the ball.

I am nervous about the Utah game but optimistic that we can right the ship, at least enough to compete and win some games. Obviously the injuries are going to be an issue this weekend. The Trojan family has been through worse. And we will fight on. There is no doubt about it.

Around the country it was a bizarre weekend. There are some incredibly overrated teams out there. The Vanderbilt win almost guarantees that Franklin is going to be coaching elsewhere next year (meaning, at a better place). Maybe it will be Los Angeles? For my money i still suspect Alabama is unbeatable until the final, and even then I don’t know if Oregon or Florida State can do it. Alabama remains the most hysterical refutation I have ever seen of the idiotic theory that football is no longer about defense and power running. Well, it is a refutation IF you accept that winning championships is the objective of the sport.