Weekly Musings – Arizona State Edition

Another week, a UC win, a 3-1 record, and an undefeated conference record despite the utter debacle in Boston. I share most Trojan fans perspectives on the Boston College debacle: I am more concerned with the questions it forces upon our team and our actual capabilities as an offense (and defense) than I am the loss itself (which technically does not affect conference realities). The problem is that if the Trojan team is as good as the one that played in Boston we need not worry about conference realities – we will be lucky to end the season with just four losses. BUT if that was a freak night or a moment in which our insanely young but talented team turned a corner, well, then it will be yet another example of what Trojans have spent a century doing: Fighting on through adversity. Non-Trojans have no clue what the fight on spirit means. We do. The Oregon State game was a situation where we could have been knocked out for the season, or we could have made a statement about who we are. It obviously ended up not being the former, but I’m not sure it was the latter either. A 25-point win with the defense giving up just three points is pretty resounding, but we struggled at moments too and have work to do. Sark knows it. We know it. Bring on those party animals from Arizona State.

Let’s go around the country then back to the USC/Oregon State action.

– There’s a couple ways to look at the Florida State win against NC State, a game I watched in its entirety. On one hand, Florida State gave up 41 points to a team who has been playing Presbytrian and Old Dominion every week, and trailed most of the game. On the other hand, they got it done – with 56 points – overcoming mistakes – period. The latter is probably the right outlook.

– The thing that most amazes me about Stanford this year is all of their problems have been totally self-induced. The discipline is not normal Stanford and the execution is non-existent. They got it done against Washington but they really seem like something is wrong

– I don’t see a way Brady Hokie keeps his job and that may be the most unprofound thing I say this week. I do wonder if they’ll “Kiffin” him (mid-season) or let it drag out this year. But they are bad, getting worse, and the Wolverine program has completely unraveled.

– I saw that Kansas fired Charlie Weis as head coach, who I imagine will end up back in the NFL (likely not until next season) as an Offensive Coordinator.

– Odd that this happened to be a bye week for the #2, #3, and #4 teams in the country

On to my beloved Trojans:

– The three consecutive false starts were quite annoying on the opening drive … And I understand the quantity of freshmen on the offensive line; but come on. Three in a row????

– Leon McQuay’s inability to make the tackle on the Oregon State kickoff return was embarrassing. But in fairness not as embarrassing as the lanes our kickoff coverage took … AND he made up for it with that interception in the endzone late in the first half

– Blame for offensive impotence in Q1 lies squarely in the laps of atrocious offensive line play. I didn’t want them to play their age this year, but there were moments in the first half I was not encouraged. I do believe they came together and really played a good game both in terms of run blocking and pass protection.

– We need Josh Shaw back. Seymour had moments of great coverage but moments of vulnerability. We need the depth and experience Josh brings.

– The 8-play, 65-yard drive in the second quarter for our first offensive touchdown featured some gutty efforts (not the least of which was Bryce Dixon’s fantastic third down catch for what felt like was our first third down conversion in a month). The play-calling was good once we got in scoring range

– I am more or less in a state of shock at the hail mary to end the half. That’s not necessarily what you want it to take to put points on the board but wow, was it ever fun … And yes, I believe it pretty much ended the game. Oregon State was just done coming out of the locker room.

– In no uncertain terms did Randall Telfer communicate what the reasons are to involve the Tight End in this offense on the mid-third quarter drive … Big catches. Big blocks. Big plays that moved the chains (even with runs after catch etc.)

– Just like last year, though, the real story of the game ended up being the ability of USC’s defense to completely sterilize Sean Mannion (who the commentators said is a top 4 QB pick?). 3 points for the Beaver offense felt a lot better than the 450 points I think Boston College scored (yes, a Boston College team which lost to Colorado State this weekend)

– I was more encouraged than anything to hear Sark say after the game, “we’re not abandoning the run; we’re going to keep running. It’s who we are …”. I share the frustrations of those who felt the run calls were stubbornly over done against BC, and I want to see a versatile offense that utilizes a vertical passing game. But it starts with a run foundation at USC, and it always will

– Nine guys catching passes for our offense. Really insane. Different team from the days the coaches didn’t even know the names of the ball catchers past the #1 and #2 guy

– I loved Sark’s point at MMQB that just because we won the game doesn’t mean you don’t have to address the things that didn’t go well. We didn’t play great, and those things have to be addressed and understood, despite the fact that it was a 25-point win

– Interesting perspective from Sark in MMQB on that kickoff Oregon State ran back. He showed us footage from practice and what they did last week on that exact play, and then from the game and how the whole unit bit to the left side of the field …

All things considered, I feel okay. Not great, but okay. That BC win was a doozy. Sark and the coaches took it hard as they should have. An Arizona State win will go a long way in conference play to position us where we need to be. I care nothing for what anyone else in the country is doing. This is on us, and our very young team will have to play older than they are to have the season we want to have. But we have a QB, and we have a defense. Let’s get it done.