OK, so where do we go from here?
With the loss to the Beavers it is now time to start looking at what's ahead for the Trojans as they prepare for the rest of the season.
A couple of observations as we put the Oregon St. game behind us. Some from TXMed in his great Diary on the right and some of my own.
- Is it me or did USC's clock management look a little sloppy on the last drive?
- Was anyone else surprised that SC didn't go for a field goal on 4th and goal instead of trying to get the ball to Smith?
- The blitz package was nice but it also opened up the secondary underneath and we are still not getting pressure from our front 3 or 4.
- I still don't see a leader on this team.
- I am hearing more and more about how great this team will be next year. They said that about the defense last year. Can we please finish this season first before looking ahead to next season.
I am unwilling to look past ANY opponent after this weekends loss. Our game against Stanford needs to clean and error free. Maybe we'll bump into some UCLA players this weekend and we can get a head start on the trash talk before our game against them on Dec. 2nd.
In my opinion this unfortunate loss will hopefully shake the cobwebs loose for all involved and reenergize this team to playing up to their potential. After what we have seen from this program in the past maybe what they need is that sense of urgency to get them fired up. Obviously we are beatable and our rivals will use last weekend's game as a guide to find a way to beat us. We still control our destiny so-to-speak. But now we are seen as a little more vulnerable. This team has yet to prove to me that they will establish their own character as they continue to reap the rewards of teams from the past.
But after losing at Oregon State and observing his players during a somber plane ride home, Carroll acknowledged Sunday that today would be different.
We need leadership and we need it now. I don't see it coming from the players I had hoped would step up and the ones who were touted at being leaders are not yet mature enough to step up and take the reins. This is one of the most talented young teams in the country but they seem to be mailing it in. The Arkansas game showed us what they could do and many walked away from that game saying "we're back!" Nothing could be further from the truth. It doesn't take much to get back on track but you've got to want to put the effort into it.
A couple of things concern me as we get into the meat of the schedule and I'm not the only one who is noticing.
Kiffin needs to call the dogs off and either live or die with his decisions. Either Booty is ready or he isn't; open up the play-book and lets see what the kid can do. We saw his talent in Arkansas game and we saw it again in the 4th qtr. of this past weekends game.
Turnovers are they key to success and bane of our existence. We need them to stop opposing offenses from having productive drives and we need to prevent our own from giving the ball up on a short field. Getting pressure in the QB and fighting harder to strip the ball need to the teams primary focus.
Use the middle of the field more. Everyone knows you're going to try to put into Smith's or Jarrett's hands so mix it up and move the receivers around the field. Use the TE more. Getting Havili back should help us with using the FB option.
Speaking of Jarrett, this is not the same DJ we saw over the last 2 years. He can only use injury as an excuse for so long. If he's injured get him off the field, if he's dogging it get him off the field and let Turner or Hazleton start to earn their bones, after all they are the future of this team.
For all of those who wanted to see more blitzing I think we can say that until the secondary plays tighter coverage and is able to break opposing receivers rhythm the blitz will only open us more easy plays underneath. The front line needs to get better pressure without having to rely on the blitz, when that happens you will see opposing offenses stopped dead in their tracks.
Chauncey waited two years for this chance. He needs to secure his future by not letting his sub-par performance continue to repeat itself. He has really shown what he can do but ball security is the key to being successful in this system and he has regressed in that dept.
Now is the time to get it into gear. I feel like I have said that each of the last 5 weeks. I have faith in Pete Carroll and his staff. Maybe they were all suffering from all the hype of their success but now that they have had their teeth kicked in maybe they will open their eyes and find a way to dig deep and get back on track. If they expect to get to a prominent bowl game they better do it now!