So, after a couple of hours of sleep, a chance to think things over and reading the local rags take, I am not really disappointed in last nights game. While it is easy to get frustrated at the defensive performance from last night I think there are mitigating factors to last nights poor defensive performance.
First, Hawaii will be the best passing offense this team will see all season. Hawaii was #3 in passing offense last year and #14 in total offense. They run both the "run and shoot" and "pistol" offense, some would call it gimmicky or pass happy, but it is effective. In a post game interview on WeAreSC, Kiffin and staff found out the night before that Hawaii was going to run the pistol and spent the whole morning going over it with the defense.
The Hawaii offense has never been well defended by Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 schemes. We saw it during Pete Carroll's time here so it really shouldn't be a surprise for anyone. In the Tampa 2 the linebackers are ineffective. Hawaii did a great job of isolating their slot receivers on the LB's and they ripped off chunks of yards making us chase them all over the field.
The defensive line will fast and furious though they still need to work on discipline. Casey's roughing the passer penalty was inexcusable, he knows better.
Last night USC defensive inexperience showed. Conditioning and depth looked to be an issue (not surprising) as well and Hawaii's coach Greg McMackin plan to exploit it.
"We planned on playing a lot of guys because as you 'SC was gassed. When we started running those running backs at them, we were running them because we knew they couldn't tackle them because they were gassed.''
And boy, did they.
But as Kiffin also noted in his post game interview he started pulling some guys early to rest/protect or because of bonehead plays.
This game actually taught us a lot.
We won't see a better passing offense this season. Hawaii's offense literally threw everything they had against the defense and we still won. This will only make the secondary stronger and more experienced. Hawaii showed us "the pistol" so we will have some film of it when we play UCLA later in the year.
We have an inexperienced defense and it showed, why some are surprised by this is mind boggling. Guys are still getting comfortable with new positions (Kennard) and the increased level of competition (Robey) so it will take some time for things to shake out. You usually have a pretty good idea of what you have by the third or forth game of the season, so let it play out.
The tackling must improve. 'SC was in a number of plays last night that could have been contained but poor tackling, for whatever reason, made those plays big gainers.
Another thing, we couldn't hang in a shootout type of game last year. I think the defense will only get better.
This offense has the potential to be very special. The running game looked pretty good and Barkley for the most part looked pretty good. We have some great receivers and surprisingly, with what we lead to believe, the O line played pretty well. I think Barkley was sacked once last night.
Special teams looked pretty good. The three 2-point conversions in a row was intriguing but Kiffin explained that as well.
So, I am looking at this with a glass half full mentality. It sure wasn't pretty, but it is hard to be upset when you win. I expect Monte to work things out. This defense will look very different as the season moves forward. The next two games will be a good indicator of what they learned from yesterday.
We'll have more later...