There is no question that Steve Sarkisian has changed the attidude of the football program at the University of Washington. It is hard to believe that UW had fallen so far in what appears to be a short amount of time. Sarkisian had the unenviable task of trying to rebuild the program after Ty WIllingham left Washington dead in the water.
Sarkisian's time under Pete Carroll gave him the building blocks to go out and make a name for himself, so when the opportunity opened at UW he jumped at the chance. UW fans see a remarkable difference in the program now. UW played LSU tough and they beat Idaho snapping a 16 game losing streak so it is safe to say that the program has some life but it has a long way to go.
This weekend Sarkisian, and former USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt, will take all that they have learned under Pete Carroll and see just how they match up.
So, the big question is who has the advantage this weekend?
Is it Carroll? The old addage being Carroll may have taught Sarkisian everything Sarkisian knows but Carroll did not teach Sarkisian everything Carroll knows...
Or is it Sarkisian? Itching to beat his former program to prove he belongs...
Regardless, while both Carroll and Sark have a strong mutual admiration for each other this is about football and even though there will be some familiarity out there that is about where things will stop. And trying to over analyze it is pointless...
"I think we have to be very careful over-analyzing -- I think you can easily get paralysis by analysis," Sarkisian said. "When you start digging too deep into this thing and try to look three or four steps down the road, that's where you can get yourself in trouble. Ultimately, we've got to do what we do well that fits with what they are doing. They're a different football team than they have been. They've got different coordinators. We have to attack them accordingly. The bottom line is we have to do what we do well. If we go too far beyond that, and try too hard, that's where we can get all screwed up."
(FYI: All donations to the Paralysis by Analysis Foundation should be sent care of the Pac-10 blog.)
Sarkisian and Holt spent a large part of their careers working with Carroll. It would be fair, in fact, to say he is their chief mentor. They have spent hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of hours together breaking down film, evaluating players, game planning, talking Xs and Os philosophy, writing poetry about winning forever and just shooting the bull.
So it's not hard to imagine each party will try to climb in the other's head in order to take a few photos.
Of course both coaches will try to look for familar tendencies afterall that is waht LSU didwhen they prepared for their game at Washington...they simply looked a bunch of USC tape to map out their scheme. Not Surprising...but in the end talent will win out and SC is loaded with it.
UW has some talent on offense. Stud QB Jake Locker, talented (if not thin skinned) running back Chris Polk and the impressive James Johnson at wide receiver offer UW some weapons to put some points on the board. UW did move the ball pretty well against LSU which has a pretty defense; unfortunately UW's offensive line is little suspect so I would expect SC to get some penetration to force Locker to make some hurried throws.
On Defense UW has some issues with a beat up defensive line, though they do OK against the run, and an abosolute sieve in the secondary which gave up 350 yards in passing (400+ in total offense) aganst Idaho. I am sure Nick Holt will turn it around but he has his work cut out. Holt does not get any help from Quinton Richardson who has guaranteed a win on Saturday.
The USC players and coaches are aware of Richardson's comments...
Washington cornerback Quinton Richardson guaranteed a Huskies victory over the Trojans, according to The Daily Herald of Everett, Wash.
USC coach Pete Carroll said his players are aware of it, but he won’t use it as bulletin-board material.
"Those guys know. I heard them talking about it," Carroll said. "I can tell them, ‘Don’t listen to this’ or ‘You didn’t hear that,’ but they’re going to hear it and see it.
"That’s never been something I’ve ever engaged in in terms of motivation. … That’s not the kind of stuff we want to be motivated by. Does it work sometimes? Yeah, it does. But I don’t operate with that."
Does that mean that SC will target Chris Polk just like you know they did DeSean Jackson instead?
Like I said, in the end talent wins out. UW is still rebuilding and getting comfortable in the new system. But don't expect this to be a boatrace...that has never been Pete Carroll's style and if USC has a comfortable lead as they head into the forth quarter I don't see Carroll rubbing Sark's face in it so I don't see SC covering the spread.
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Kiffin compare USC in 2004 to Florida in 2009...
Interesting comments from Lane Kiffin-
Lane Kiffin stayed on his Florida-is-the-greatest tact during Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference. "Maybe the best ever," he called the Gators, who host Kiffin and the Volunteers on Saturday afternoon.
The anointing is important, especially given that Kiffin helped coach another team-of-the-decade candidate—the 2004 USC Trojans. That team featured a pair of eventual Heisman winners (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush) as well as a receiver that caught a touchdown pass per game (Dwayne Jarrett). The defense, led by Shaun Cody and Lofa Tatupu, led the nation against the rush and ranked third in total defense. It forced 38 turnovers and allowed 20 or more points just three times.
Florida likely has a dozen games left this year, but it's easy to sketch the arguments. USC's big-play capabilities and solid offensive line give it the nod with the ball. UF's experienced and fast defense gives it the slight edge there. Florida covers kicks better; USC's Bush gets the nod over Florida's Brandon James as a return man.
Who wins? A shame they'll never play. But the debate is a good one. Thanks to Lane for making it mainstream.
That was some USC team!
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Here are a couple of nice articles on Joe McKnight...
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Barkley Still Out...
Matt Barkley did not throw on Wedsnesday. That is the third stright practice that he was not able to throw fueling speculation that it could be Aaron Corp getting the nod. No decision has been made and that is fine, like I have said in the past.
CFT has an interesting, if not a smug, take on things...
The fact of the matter is that exactly who starts at quarterback is the least important question revolving around the Trojan football team. Unless, of course, you're one of those worshiping at the altar of golden child Matt Barkley.
If you are, don't be ashamed. Pete Carroll is kneeling right there with you.
If Barkley's wing isn't solid enough to make a go of it on Saturday, so be it. Aaron Corp, who was Carroll's previous golden child, will be just fine. Perhaps even better.
Then, let's say Corp, who sustained a small crack to his left fibula on Aug. 10, isn't able to play for whatever reason, that would open the door for Mitch Mustain. You remember him. He went 8-0 as a starter as a true freshman at Arkansas in 2006.
We're not trying to be disrespectful to Washington, but Garrett Green could start against the Huskies and USC would still roll to victory.
Barkley was sidelined for only one game as a four-year starter at Santa Ana's Mater Dei High.
In the 2005 Southern Section Division I quarterfinals against Colton, Barkley suffered a broken collarbone. The injury ended his season, forcing him to sit out the Monarchs’ semifinal loss to Loyola.
"The feeling that you can’t do anything, that you’re helpless was just terrible," Barkley said Tuesday.
Barkley’s injury came courtesy of a hit delivered by future USC teammate Allen Bradford.
At the time, Bradford was the among the most dynamic two-way players in recent Southland prep history, a senior running back and linebacker for a Colton team that also featured future Trojans cornerback Shareece Wright.
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Well, whatever works...
Mitch Mustain was one of the most sought-after quarterback recruits when he came out of Sprindale (Ark.) High. But since transferring to USC, he has failed to crack the starting lineup.
Now, Mustain is dabbling at a new position — punter. Coach Pete Carroll said Mustain has a chance to earn future playing time at a spot where the Trojans have struggled so far.
"He’s got a really good leg," Carroll said. "It’s going to take him awhile, obviously, to get his timing down and all that. … We’re going to give him a chance to see if he can develop a little bit."
The coaches became intrigued by Mustain’s punting ability when they saw him do it during the team’s walk-through in Columbus last week. He punted as a senior in high school, but only "about five times," according to his former and current teammate, Damian Williams, because Springdale’s offense was so prolific.
Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants!