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Is USC predictable?

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Sundays Press Enterprise thinks so.

Most of USC's Pac-10 rivals didn't seem to care what it was the Trojans were doing to them -- or how or why.

The Pac-10 teams just kept on playing the way they always had. USC was only one game, right?

Opponents outside the Pac-10 cared even less, it seemed.

Advantage: Trojans. At least until last year, when Notre Dame, Fresno State and Texas figured some things out.

Now, in the biggest surprise of all, it's the Pac-10 teams that are doing something about it.

That's not surprising; teams find a way to "crack the code" as it were, in order to scheme against opponents. No system is impenetrable and it only takes time before opposing teams catch on and figure out ways to scheme against you. That may be only part of the problem. Youth also has a lot to do with it, the inexperience that the secondary has is one of example of scheming against a teams weaknesses. The schemes are the same but now you can attack it because the inexperienced player does not yet know the tricks of the trade. Once they smell blood in the water they are emboldened to continue to put up the pressure.

Here is another example from the Daily News:

Booty took a quick three-step drop and tried to find wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett for a two-point conversion at the end of the No.9-ranked Trojans' 33-31 loss to Oregon State. But Oregon State defensive end Jeff Van Orsow deflected Booty's pass to end the Trojans' comeback and possibly their championship hopes.

Short plays of that nature traditionally lead to more tipped passes, USC quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian said.

"That's kind of when it does happen," Sarkisian said. "But we use the quick game a lot, and we pride ourselves in the quick game. It so happened the guy got his hand on the ball. He (Booty) had one pass batted down in 39."

It didn't help matters that offensive tackle Sam Baker took a three-step drop on the play but Van Orsow did not engage the All-American, choosing to stand and jump for the pass.

"I think he anticipated the play. I was supposed to kick back, and he didn't come off the ball," Baker said. "We thought there was going to be outside pressure and it didn't come."

Opposing teams in order to get the upper hand will often victimize youthful, inexperienced players and that is what we have seen this season. But its not always the inexperienced player that gets burned as Baker describes above. Sometimes its dumb luck, others it's calculated. The secondary again, is a prime example, they have often played too soft and when they have attempted to play aggressive they have been called for Pass interference penalties. As their experience grows it becomes tougher to victimize them provided they have the talent.

Also from the Press Enterprise article:

Somebody beats up on you for five years, you better figure something out, the defensive end said after Saturday's 33-31 loss to Oregon State. The Pac-10 did.

Look at the past four games. Pac-10 opponents Washington State, Washington, Arizona State and OSU, which ended USC's 27-game Pac-10 unbeaten run, appeared physically equal, mostly tougher, more motivated, smarter, more confident and better prepared for the Trojans than the Trojans were for them.

So true, you can't win forever.

Teams must continue to bring fresh ideas to the playbook. There has been a lot of discussion about college coaches spending time with professional teams and gleaning some ideas to bring to their respective programs. SC needs to look at doing the same thing in order to mix things up in the seasons to come. With talent we have staying ahead of the rest of the conference will only ensure SC's continued success.