USC Football News and Notes 11/10 - The Offense

USC is going to be challenged this weekend when they Stanford if for no other reason than the amount of players injured on the team.

This week Damian Williams is unlikely to play due to a high ankle sprain...

Damian Williams, USC's top receiver and punt returner, is doubtful for Saturday's game against Stanford because of a high ankle sprain suffered against Arizona State.

The junior did not practice Monday and wore a calf-high protective boot on his right foot.

"It's been tough the last two days just trying to walk," Williams said. "I kind of figured out, like, 'OK, there is a possibility that I might not play,' so that's really tough for me."

Williams said it was too early to rule out his playing against the Cardinal -- "I'm a quick healer," he said -- but high ankle sprains typically take weeks to heal.

USC tight end Anthony McCoy, for example, has sat out the last two games because of the same injury. The senior did a few drills Monday and said he would meet with doctors tonight with hopes of playing Saturday.

This is the last thing SC needs. This Stanford defense can be exploited but USC needs its skill players to make plays.  RoJo is pretty much back at full strength so who will play the #2 receiver. Ausberry is pretty much out for the year. Carswell? Butler? Carswell has a toe injury so I doubt he's the guy. Butler has shown us some nice things, 10 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown, but he hasn't been on the field enough to really show some consistency. Now is his chance. This is really concerning because the passing game has been the one thing that has kept opposing defenses on their heels as the running has been inconsistent.

This is where the coaching staff is going to earn their money...it is easy to be good when you are at full strength with top notch players. When you have piece a team together with untested players it is a whole different story.

One weapon SC hopes to have back is TE Anthony McCoy...

Receiver Damian Williams‘ situation makes tight end Anthony McCoy’s possible return even more essential for USC.

McCoy, who has missed the past two games, ran in a straight line and jumped without any setbacks Monday. He said he still has some pain but expects it to dissipate by the end of the week. He will try to practice Tuesday or Wednesday.

Although replacements Blake Ayles and Rhett Ellison have struggled with drops, that isn’t McCoy’s motivation to come back.

"The season’s almost over; that’s my urgency trying to get back," said McCoy, a senior. "I’ve got three games left. … I want to get back so I can finish my senior season."

Don't get me started. Ayles hasn't struggled, he simply hasn't shown up. He has 5-star talent with a 5th grade mind. He has dropped some easy balls the past few games that were drive stoppers. When highly touted players with great potential aren't getting it done it takes another option away for an already struggling offense. The TE position is crucial component to the USC offense so whomever is playing need to have a lot of positive production. I say give Ellison a bigger role until Ayles gets his head straight.

Of course the other concern that we really shouldn't have is with the O line. They got pushed around by the ASU defense especially their stud DE's. There is definitely some talent on the line but for some reason they have not lived up t their potential. Again, some of that is due to injury but you can't use that excuse forever...guys need to step and beat back the rush...

One of the more interesting comments following USC's offensive meltdown at Arizona State occurred when quarterback Matt Barkley said the Sun Devils' defensive ends lined up wider than expected and he could not see them when they tipped his passes.

But USC coaches said Monday the Sun Devils did not line up wider than other teams. They simply slipped past USC's offensive tackles when they pressured Barkley.

"We just got beat. Flat out," USC offensive coordinator John Morton said. "That was unexpected. It was one-on-one situations."

The most successful rusher was Arizona State defensive end Dexter Davis, who tipped two Barkley passes.

I understand that they can't protect Barkley on every play but you could see SC's O line really struggled. I also think that the ASU defense was already in Barkley's head before the game even started...he had happy feet all night. He never looked comfortable in the pocket. And it showed with some of the throws he made...he made a couple of short throws but it was the over thrown balls that concerned me more. That showed me a guy who had a little too much adrenalin going.

Barkley has enjoyed a fair amount of success this season it hasn't been perfect but it has been serviceable. His last to games though have shown us that his still growing into the game. I realize that some do not to want to hear that he is a freshman QB...but the facts are the facts. He is a true freshman and while he has shown us some great things he is still prone to mistakes. Heck, last season MArk Sanchez looked like a freshman against ASU throwing 3 or 4 picks, we see how that turned out...

Barkley is not satisfied with his poor performance...

Barkley completed only seven of 22 passes for 112 yards, 75 of which came on a catch-and-run touchdown by receiver Damian Williams.

Barkley was four for 11 for 24 yards in the first half and three for 11 for 88 yards in the second. He had one pass intercepted, and might have had two more if not for a penalty that overturned one and a drop that prevented another.

Barkley, who also struggled in the second half against Oregon, said he was "a little frustrated" against the Sun Devils.

"I just felt like we couldn't get into a rhythm," he said.

Barkley has completed 125 of 221 passes for 1,839 yards, with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

I cannot blame Oregon on Barkley...the coaches went off the reservation in trying to force things to play catch-up. But I can lay some blame on Barkley for his ASU performance...some receivers did drop some easy balls but Barkley made some errant throws as well...lets just say that there is plenty of blame to go around and leave it at that.

SC need to put all of its focus into beating Stanford this weekend.

- - -

File this in your "NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN." file...

Think UCLA at 4-5 is a cinch to make a bowl game with two more victories? Think again. In a testament to how weird this Pac-10 season has been, in order for the Bruins to earn a bowl invitation, not only must they beat Washington State and Arizona State but they likely need USC to win out … which means they would need to lose to USC in their regular season finale.

Consider the following:

  • There are only six guaranteed bowl spots for the Pac-10.
  • UCLA, with two victories in its final three games, would be 3-6 (6-6 overall) and finish seventh in the conference.
  • UCLA, if it wins out, would be 4-5 (7-5 overall) and still probably finish seventh in the conference. (Only Cal, currently 3-3 in the Pac-10, has a reasonable shot of falling below UCLA. If USC loses out it could also finish behind UCLA.)
  • Oregon’s loss to Stanford ended the Ducks’ outside shot of playing in the BCS title game, which would have given the conference an extra bowl bid.
  • USC is the only Pac-10 team in line to play in a BCS bowl other than the Rose Bowl, which would give the conference an extra bowl bid.
  • If Oregon wins out, it’s going to Pasadena. If the Ducks were to lose again, their ranking would be too low to play in another BCS Bowl. Neither Arizona, Oregon State or Stanford are positioned to finish high enough to make another BCS Bowl. (Note: Another Oregon loss would probably mean a three-way tie atop the conference, which could put USC in the Rose Bowl and deny the Pac-10 the extra bowl bid.)
  • In other words, UCLA needs any team other than USC in the Rose Bowl and USC in another BCS bowl. This leads to my favorite part: Heading into their season finale with USC, the Bruins, with victories in their next two games, could be in a situation where they would knock themselves out of a bowl by beating USC (subsequently knocking the Trojans out of a BCS bowl) but would ensure making a bowl by losing. That would be fascinating.

    Heh.

    Right...

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