Cracks in the Armor

It has been interesting to read some of the comments that I have read around the Messages Boards and here on CC as well.

I think it's the first time in a long time that I have seen so much rancor on a part of the fans over this loss. And believe me A LOT is coming out.

It is safe to say that a bit of the SC soft white underbelly has been exposed and the fans are clamoring for answers. Some of those questions are legitimate and they really didn't become clear until now. Last year it was easy to point fingers at Kiffin in regards to play calling and such but he is gone and Sarkisian is now in charge. His being trained by Norm Chow was supposed to give us a sense of calm and that this season would be different than last season.

Anybody buying that?

Face it people Norm Chow isn't coming back and all the crap that people spew about PC running Chow out of town need to look at both sides of that situation. You are talking about two massive egos that could only work together for so long and from what I've heard this was more on Chow than it was on Carroll. I'm sure PC can be a real dream to work for when he wants things done his way so maybe Chow couldn't handle PC's way of doing things. Could PC have made a better choice in an OC? Sure but that time has passed and we are dealing with the here and now.

The fact is no team can continue to stay on top of the world in this sport and that SC has continued to be at the forefront is feat in and of it self. There are a ton of questions I have that I guess were always there but now they probably should be addressed.

It starts with the coaching staff. Anyone think that SC would be in this spot without Pete Carroll? Talk about Dumb F---ing Luck! Mike Garrett lucked out no question about it as NO ONE had any idea what Pete Carroll would bring to this program. PC did the right thing by hiring talent that knew the college game backwards and forwards. Chow, Oregeron and Davis knew how to recruit and work with these types of athletes and when you couple that with Pete Carroll's enthusiasm it is not hard to see why they picked off all the top talent and found a way to cultivate that talent into what we have seen the last 5 years.

Pete Carroll made it fun to root for USC again after all those years of sub par performance at the hands of Tolner, Smith and Hackett. (Robinson gets a pass with me because of what he was able to do in round one at SC and that win against Northwestern in the Rose Bowl was fine with me.) Pete Carroll did in a very short time what Bob Toledo and Karl Dorrell couldn't do at ucla, put his team on the national stage consistently during his respective tenure. I'm not talking about regional exposure but the type of attention that SC has had the past five years, good or bad - like it or not, where everyone wants to be a part of it. (To be fair you are seeing the same thing with Ben Howland across town.)

Nothing is ever perfect and when things are going great no one really worries about the flaws below the surface. Well those flaws are now staring us right in the face and a lot of fans want some answers or corrections.

My questions are quite simply these:

Is it really an open competition that takes place? I'm not saying that Sanchez would do better but how do we know and how was the competition between the two QB's meted out. Booty has shown a lot of loyalty to Carroll, as Booty did not made a stink while he waited his turn to get on to the field. So it appears that barring an injury PC will stick with Booty to work his problems out. That obviously flies in the face of an "open competition".

Why haven't the receivers progressed? Turner needs to learn to hang onto the ball. DC Trojan said it best to me today off line,"Sometimes I wonder if he's too busy thinking about what to do when he gets the ball". I think Turner is afraid to get hit. One solution is to throw it to at every turn, let him take the hits until he can do it while hanging on to the ball. Otherwise switch to corner or safety so you can deliver the hits.

You have some studs so why not use them? It was relayed to me elsewhere that Pete Carroll tends to shy away from players who are having problems i.e. Stanley Havili. Havili has blown some routes and dropped some passes and it was obvious that he was not going to be an option in the Stanford game. I have real problems with this as it obviously flies in the face of what I wrote above about Booty. Who else is PC going to go with at FB, Adewale? It was also relayed to me that it is clear that PC will live and die with this offensive scheme, as we have seen no imagination of late. Part of that was probably to rotate guys in to help get them a feel of real game experience so the plays need to be vanilla. The other part is probably to play down Booty's shortcomings.

Why hasn't Bradford seen more action? We have heard all this talk about how well he does in practice yet he doesn't get on the field. Washington is not the answer and his failure to score on 4th and short only makes matters worse when you have a player on the bench that can score on 4th and short. Once again sticking with Washington only stokes the fires of loyalty over who can get the job done. Mark my words Bradford will transfer if he doesn't see some playing time soon. Why didn't McKnight see any more action? Is he ready or not? Either play him or shut up about how great he is, stop baiting us.

How bad is the Offensive line?? Two guys go down and all of a sudden we are failures? If Ruel knew that he had some players that were having a hard time picking up line calls and assignments and hasn't fixed it, as was alluded to here, then what good is he? That says a lot about Pat Ruel to me. I'm sure there is some way to work with them without breaking the rules.

Here is an excerpt:

Pat Ruel - one of the great line coaches in the game - allowed me to sit in and watch film with the O-line during summer camp, and I remember being amazed that a few of the linemen who have been in the program for a few years still don't have a clue in terms of assignments and line calls.  I remember thinking at the time, "if these guys have to play, we are in trouble."  Well - these guys are playing and we are in trouble.

Whose fault is that?

How did we lose all the discipline? There are times when Scott Wolf drives me nuts but he nails this one here. I was so impressed that I have taken the whole thing.

One Word Sums It Up

Discipline.

USC committed 24 penalties in two games. When Ty Willingham beat a penalty-prone USC team during the Paul Hackett era, he made a comment that once a team gets used to penalties, it's hard to break the habit.

But discipline comes in other ways. Why are boosters allowed in the coaching area during games? The ref told a booster to "get out of here'' after he complained about a face mask penalty. This playpen mentality even bothers many in the athletic dept. and creates an unprofessional atmosphere.

Discipline also refers to my post last Friday about the office hours being kept the week of the Stanford game.

"I had a feeling we were taking them lightly, especially with the new quarterback,'' a high-placed member of the program told me.
I was told Stanford's offense was basic and did not require as much time to analyze. It sure looked successful in the fourth quarter.
Discipline also means having the sense to hire a special teams coach. There's been way too many penalties on special teams recently and it's because the responsibilities are basically farmed out through the staff.

There's a fine line between genius and hubris. When you win, it's genius, when you lose . . .

That's one pissed off alum who happens to cover the team. He also has a strong relationship with Carroll so I'm sure these questions were asked directly to PC.

The fact is the team follows the example set by the coaches and clearly the coaches took Stanford lightly as we could tell by the results.

I realize that Pete Carroll or his staff will probably never read this and if they do they will think I have no clue or are misinformed but look at what I asked carefully. We have been lead to believe that we have all this talent based on comments from the coaching staff and that only the best talent gets on the field yet over the past two weeks we have seen spotty or poor performances on the offense and no solutions put forth to fix them. If you think that you owe something to Booty or Washington then fine simply spell it out, we have supported you no matter what in the past so why wouldn't we now?

I also realize that some fans will disagree with me and that's fine too. All opinions are heard here and I welcome anyone who disagrees with me to point out where I'm wrong. I won't fly off the handle like they do elsewhere because an argument may or may not be based in fact. Emotional debate is fine; it is what being a fan is all about. I only want the best performance that SC can put on the field and if we lose, as long as we give it our best, I will be fine with it.

This season is not over but he staff is treading on thin ice in regards to the good will put forth towards this program by the fans. If the product stinks they will stop coming to games and it will be like the Hackett days with only 50,000 in the stands. Butts in the seats means money for the athletic department and money is always the bottom line. They also run the risk of missing out on recruits, if the recruits think that SC is all fluff and that top talent really doesn't get onto the field like advertised then they will look elsewhere.

I want this team to get back on track and I want them to use ALL the talent available not just the talent they think they owe something too.

FIGHT ON!

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