I am going to take a couple of different paths with this post...
One of things that frustrated me about last night's loss was the lack of adjustments.
Whether it was before the game or during the game Pete Carroll has simply refused to make any adjustment away from the Tampa 2 bend don't break defense that he is so wedded to. Some of that has to do with being thin at some positions because of injury or eligibility issues, the rest is simply habit. You can never stay 100% healthy and you can’t get every recruit you covet so he has what he has…But that does not excuse the poor tackling technique and the numerous false starts that we all saw last night.
The Pac-10 has caught up to Pete Carroll in terms of how they scheme against his defenses, in how he recruits his players and they have taken advantage of how he develops his talent. Pete Carroll has always been seen as the master of adjustments but I didn't see any last night...or in the previous two games where the defense fell apart in the second half.
I guess we really shouldn't be surprised...many of us thought (myself included) that with all this talent on defense we would be able to keep the defensive production respectable even as we lost all that talent on defense to the NFL. I did not think that we would simply pick up where we left off after the win over Penn St. but I also didn't think that ANY Pete Carroll defense would get schooled like they did last night. Stated differently, I knew we would have some growing pains and maybe a few tough losses but not the type of performances that we have seen the last three Saturdays.
It makes me wonder...with all this talent is Pete Carroll really managing it effectively? Zoulou made a great point in his commnet in the post game thread...
If Galippo is the best LB recruit since the famous haul of 2005, then we are in a world of hurt for the next two years because Malcolm Smith is too small at the point of attack and Gallippo isn’t big enough to get off block or go around them. Morgan does what is does, he is servicable, but if your MLB and your SLB can’t make plays, the cover two is in trouble.
Yeap...PC has not adjust his schemes to match his talent. And the talent he has is not as aggressive as we have seen in the past. I could take Rey overrunning some plays because I knew he would come back and smash someone in the mouth. Galippo has that ability but for some reason he isn't doing it like we saw early on. We used to see Morgan blitz from the outside all the time early on but that has been lost too.
Unfortunately, PC is forever wedded to the Tampa 2 regardless of the talent. That’s fine, but if you don't tweak it here or there you live by it and you die by it. If PC wants to keep the play in front of the defense by using a soft zone then he better make damn sure that his players can tackle the ball carrier. This has been one thing that has been so alarming on this defense...we saw it bit last year but this is just unreal. USC's defense looked like ucla out there last night with their poor tackling. PC has relied too much on the stout play of the defensive line instead of blitzing more to confuse the QB. Because of the early success of the D line PC got complacent by not bringing Taylor Mays in from his center field position for run support or for blitzing, making Mays pretty easy to scheme against and now we see the result.
You can also see it when the LB's are backing off the LOS making it easier for the QB to take off and scramble...especially one like Masoli. Keeping the CB's off the receiver 5-8 yards allows the QB to make quick throws. Why not man up the receiver off the line every so often just to keep him honest? Especially if you do not want to bring Mays up for run support...he can back up the CB's as very little is going to get past him with his speed.
Now with all that being said...
It is fair to criticize and analyze last night's loss but people also need to have some perspective
Lono over on WeAreSC let me use this...
I am also going to use his words...
ALL OF THEM!
When we lost 10-11 guys to the NFL, folks believed "we'll just reload."
Those guys included arguably the greatest linebacking corps ever. Maualuga, Cushing, Matthews and Maiava. All doing great in their first years as pros.
The weakest part of this year's defense? I would beg to say linebackers.
Oh and another guy, Mark Sanchez left. We have a freshman quarterback taking his place.
We also lost Kevin Ellison (pros) and Shareece Wright (ugh).
To date this year, we have lost Stafon Johnson, Loni Fangupo and Marc Tyler.
We were without the services of McCoy, Havili, Ausberry and Patterson. Kris O'Dowd, the centerpiece of the O'line still is battling injury and did not even play. Brian Baucham is still hampered. Adam Goodman has been out.
Again, our linebacking corps is thin, and we are battling injury there.
If some of you think coaching can overcome this, you need to turn in your gameboys and x-boxes, because there is a bit called reality here.
We are very short on manpower.
And if you use the 'we are more talented than they are' cop-out, tell me, are Carswell, D.J. Shoemate and Ayles better than the folks they are replacing? Are they equal to the folks they are replacing? Are they even close to being Ausberry, Havili and McCoy? The answer is NO.
Oh yeah, this 'reloading' thing is so last year.
The Trojans are rebuilding this year. Get used to it.
Before the season started I put up a thread that we were going to lose 3 games.
No other program can make those claims!
For as pissed off as we get about these types of things think about the 118 other schools that can't even sniff those accomplishments listed above.
Sure Florida has two crystal balls but Urban Meyer has not come close to PC's accomplishments. Very few teams schedule, recruit and produce the results that USC has in the past 5 years.
WE ARE THE DOMINANT PROGRAM IN THE COUNTRY!
That doesn't guarantee that our team won't play poorly at times. It doesn't guarantee that we won't get beat bad like we did last night...but it does mean that SC has set the standard that everyone has either tried to emulate or catch up to. Watch those clowns across as they can't even get out of their own way week in and week out and then tell me how bad last night was.
The injuries are a problem for us, but other schools have injury problems as well. It just goes to show us that depth is still the key to a successful program but it is a tough thing to manage. Players still need to develop and that takes some time...anyone remember Rey and Cush against Texas?
We should question some of things that we have ween the past few weeks. But USC can't be dominant like this forever. I agree with Lono that this is our re-tooling year. We have the talent we just have to develop it and PC has gone a little off track of late. I suspect he will right the ship.
I also agree with Zoulou...PC has been so good at recruiting top talent that sooner or later some of these guys just are not going to come this way because we have TOO MUCH talent. The linebacker corps is the perfect example of that.
Calling out Seto like I have seen in a few places is so way off base that it is hilarious. This is PC's defense, he calls the shots. He is also the final say on the offense...he is not yet ready to let Bates and Morton do it all by themselves so this is all on him and he will be roundly criticized for it. But if you think there is someone out there who could produce these same results you better call Garrett and Sample.
It is a crappy feeling for all of us to see this team get beat like a drum last night but it is only one game. There have been some close calls this season and this time it caught up to us. So, the team has to start all over again and focus on ASU. I may be disappointed about the performance of the past few games but I really could not be happier with the over all package that we have all enjoyed the past 8 seasons.
We should question Carroll for some of what we have seen but we should also trust him in how he addresses it, he has much more information than we have and he knows a lot more than any of us ever will regardless of his stubbornness not to change.
I AM STILL IN!!