With USC mid-way through the season it is time to take a look at where we are at. It has been a wild ride so far this season with a few nail-biter games in the books. This is not the same team that we saw last year. Heck, it's not the same team we saw against Arkansas. Injuries have been abundant and that has hampered SC's ability to get things going on offense. Youth has also been an issue. Because of all the injuries that we have suffered underclass men have played prominent roles on both sides of the ball.
John David Booty has struggled at times to get the offense going. In the ASU game he and Dwayne Jarrett were not on the same page and Booty misread a route that turned into an INT for a touchdown. There has been a lot of talk about the comparisons between JDB and Matt Leinart at this same period in their college careers. That talk is pointless, there is no comparison to be made. It's a different time under different circumstances with different team make-up. I also don't recall Leinart having to deal with new players week in and week out because of injuries. That is a daunting task.
The running game has finally started coming together. Chauncey Washington is showing the talent that we hoped we would see when he was recruited. He is a bruising back that will only get better. Emmanuel Moody has also stepped up and had some great games and he will only get better. The fullback position is another issue. Allen Bradford has shown some promise and so had Stanley Havili before he went down with an injury. This new found grind it out approach wears down opponents and runs out the clock. That is something new to those of us who were used to seeing SC have long scoring drives consisting of 3 plays.
The receivers have had some good games. Steve Smith was great in the WSU game and Patrick Turner was great in the Washington game. Again, when healthy this is the best receiving corps in the country. They will step it up in the second half of the season and their presence will make life easier for JDB and enable us to put some pressure on opposing defenses.
The defense has been our strong point so far this season. They haven't put pressure on the opposing QB like they have in the past nor have the converted turnovers at the rate we are used to seeing but they bend and don't break. Because of their incredible speed they seem, at times, to overplay the ball. There is so much talent on the defense that the coaching staff has used a modified 3-4 to get them all on the field. The secondary has done an adequate job of not giving up the big play. Yes, they have been caught off guard on a few plays but over the pass defense has been great! Of course the recent injury to Kevin Thomas is another blow to an already depleted secondary.
SC needs to put it all together now. They have shown in the past to be a second half team that hits its stride at just the right time. They need to have that same thing happen now. The bye week will help with some of the injuries but SC needs to take this time off to work out the bugs in their sluggish offense. Yes, this is a young team with a lot of new faces and they are finding it harder to win but now is the time for them to step up and show the critics that their record is no fluke. If they can win out they have the opportunity to play in another title game. I know it's a bit early to start thinking about that but you have to have something to shoot for. That goal is a good as any don't you think?