TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24: Head Coach Lane Kiffin of the University of Southern California Trojans calls in a play against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Youth has always been an interesting angle on this team.
USC has had a history of using young or less experienced players...it was one of the staples of the Pete Carroll era.If you are good enough you will play was the line that Carroll would use when recruiting top talent.
But of late it sounds more like an excuse. Of course I am not saying that its not true but at time it sounds like that angle is being pushed a little too much.
Lane Kiffin has used that explanation in the first few weeks of the season...but now he expects the young players to start playing like veterans.
Throughout the first four weeks of the 2011 season, USC coach Lane Kiffin lamented the mistakes committed by his freshmen. Heading into Week 5, one couldn't help but wonder: Will the Trojans ever reach a point when those errors are no longer expected?
"We have," Kiffin said. "Right now."
That was the message Kiffin sent to his players Sunday, the unofficial start of preparations for Saturday's game against Arizona. In his view, USC's first-time starters have passed the two milestones needed to get the freshman jitters out of their systems: Their first college games overall and their first on the road.
"This is definitely the time," said Kiffin, whose team played its first away game last week vs. Arizona State."There (is) no more time for freshman mistakes or newcomer mistakes, because there's no excuses anymore."
OK, I can see where he is trying to get the team over the hump...to play responsibly...for the message to get through.
But in the case where the a player continues to make mistakes will Kiffin have the courage to make a switch even if the talent drops off from one player to the next?
That is where the lessons are learned. That is also where the team as a whole gets experience.
Its a delicate balance.
I am not the biggest fan of sitting a guy for fumbling the ball. The message to protect the ball has to be sent, but the player can't build his confidence or get on track sitting on the bench. This is where I question Kiffin's player management.
I don't expect him to be perfect but I would like to see some consistency or balance to his approach.
That is the only ay the team grows...and its a way for Kiffin to grow into being a better head coach. He is lacking right now, he is better OC and play caller than he is an overall HC.
This is the year to where the team needs to come together. With a bowl game game not in the cards, becoming a better football team as the scholarship crunch starts to be felt is what they should be playing for.
I am fine with making broad statements about youth not being an excuse, but what the fall back plan if players continue to make mistakes?