That is certainly the question I have this morning. It would appear that PC snookered himself in over thinking his game plan against Oregon. And because of that horrible performance on Saturday it opens PC up to a few questions that won't be comfortable.
In his own words...
Carroll said the game plan he and the staff put together overburdened the defense, preventing the players from playing fast and free.
"We messed it up," Carroll said. "We probably tried too hard. Our guys, mentally, were bottled up with the stuff we were doing. We tried to scheme too much. We made mistakes that we normally wouldn't make, and we didn't play the way we normally play. It was just a disastrous outcome."
After Oregon scored 47 points and gained 613 yards, Carroll said the plan USC used is "going in the can."
"I like the stuff that we tried to do," Carroll said. "But I don't like the way it showed up on game day."
That is telling and it is disappointing.
Pete Carroll gets the benefit of the doubt in my eyes but not as much as I was willing to give him in the past. He has been working his magic for a number of years now and many of us were amazed at how the defense looked so lost out there on Saturday. I get it, it happens to the best of them... best laid plans, etc., etc. Because we have been so spoiled with solid performances over the years, this drubbing really made a lot of us take a second look.
This was not a Pete Carroll prepared team like we are used to seeing... this team looked lost out there, and it begs the question: what was the coaching staff thinking in their game prep?
I think it is clear that that our youth came out in full force Saturday night. Looking back on other games you can now see that there may have been some chinks in the armor but the the defense continued to respond. I think the road schedule hurt them a lot a lot too. But those excuses will only go far... we never saw a game where Rey and Cush got neutralized like we saw Galippo, Horton, and Morgan get neutralized on Saturday.
Pete Carroll is trashing that defensive game plan but I really would not read too much into this...
Coach Pete Carroll said he and his staff erred against Oregon by restricting the defense with a complicated scheme that caused less-seasoned players to play too cautiously.
Asked by a reporter if last season's veteran linebacker corps, which included Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Kaluka Maiava and Clay Matthews, made it easier to run more complicated schemes, Carroll said, "You couldn't ask for more experience than we had last year, so we had the absolute maximum attention and focus and ability. And this might be an indication of that.
"Up until now, I haven't felt like that, but this plan in particular . . . it's going in the can. I'm real disappointed it turned out that way."
Understand that this is only in regards to the Oregon game plan and not Pete Carroll's Tampa 2 base defensive scheme.
It also opens up a number of questions in regards to PC's defensive philosophy...
We all know PC is loathe to walk away from the Tampa 2. He has already said he is not going to change his defensive philosophy. That is fine, I can't argue that his defensive philosophy has not worked for us up to this point, but there have been many of us that have wanted to see PC catch up with the times, tweak the defense here or there. But that brings out more questions... was this weekends game plan a tweak or an all out change just to try and defend the Ducks?
If it is the latter then that just shows you can't really change your philosophy... no real surprise there. But if this past weekend's scheme was a tweak and the players had a hard time adjusting to it, then what does that say about trying to apply other tweaks?
What am I missing?
The Tampa 2 leaves the middle soft... if PC wants to continue to keep Mays an extra ten yards back then we are going to see a lot quick slants across the middle... that will not be pretty if the LB's are not able to make tackles, like we saw on Saturday.
And the news could get worse... we are already thin at a number of positions because of injury. I would not be surprised if SC lost another 1-2 games if the defense doesn't improve. The sky isn't falling yet... but there are storm clouds on the horizon.
So let me throw this out there...
Warranted or not Pete Carroll is already catching heat for this. Many see that his stubbornness to not change as being a major reason for this team not playing up to its level of talent.
There are those that will criticize PC for his loose coaching techniques and outside charity work. There will be those that will continue to pine for past seasons and old coaches and all that is fine... misguided or not fans will always have their say.
But Pete Carroll now has to show all of us that this is just a fluke... Most are willing to accept a rebuilding year. No program can stay at the level that SC has been at for the past seven years. Sometimes these things happen and that helps a program refocus. But PC has to show us all that he can get the team back on track; get the team back to playing fundamental football.
In short USC now has to earn it.
They will no longer get the benefit of the doubt among the pundits or the fans... that is what a loss like the one we saw on Saturday night does to a program. Especially when we are used to such a high amount of production.
Pete Carroll has given a lot us when it comes to USC football. We have cheered him and supported him probably to a fault. We got a kick out of the practical jokes, the Twitter messages and his work for A Greater L.A. He has been able to do all those things because the team was winning and always in the hunt. A loss like Saturday's now gives the fans pause... right or wrong it is about "what have you done for me lately?" PC is still in my good graces and like me, many were prepared for a 2-3 loss season; but, now that we are here, we want to make sure that he can get us back on track. How USC lost on Saturday concerns me greatly. That some on the team are not getting the message at being able to adjust is a bit disconcerting. Barkley didn't have his best game but he also wasn't fazed by Autzen but everyone else on the team seemed to be.
I do not know where this team is headed... we have seen the team collapse over the last three games on defense and that concerns many of us because PC is a defensive guy.
I just don't know what to make of it...