While it is easy to point fingers as to why we lost to UCLA it is time to start asking some questions as to what direction we need to take. The final result is a clear indication that we weren't prepared to win this game. I mean zero points in the second half is a pretty big indication that someone did not make the adjustments needed to win this game.
I am not a fan of the youth movement that we are currently seeing among the coaching staffs across the D1 landscape. Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian have had 2 years, after the departure Norm Chow, to get their system in place. This year it was with their players not Chow's but still they haven't produced a quality product consistently. I'm sorry, but this program requires coaches with some big game experience. Kiffin and Sarkisian have not used their past experience, read Rose Bowl, as a learning tool to make this team better. A couple years under Norm Chow is not enough in my eyes and USC is not the place for on the job training. USC is not a place for experimentation. This is a program with a storied history that's needs experience and a plan to win. I said earlier in the season that Kiffin and Sarkisian needed to show what they could do with their player in their system.
I will admit that I am not savvy enough to understand the intricacies of play calling but a couple of things stand out. I thought the wheel route to Gable was magnificent and while he should have caught it I was surprised we didn't use it more. I have no problem with going for it on 4th down that has been a staple of this system but can we have a little more imagination in the plays we use. I mean a little trickeration would have been nice to keep them off balance. With UCLA flying to the ball on almost every play a little misdirection could have slowed them down.
As for the Offensive line, Kyle Williams needs to sit. He has had a history of false starts and keeping him in there only exposed SC's lack of depth at the position. What did he have 3 or 4 false starts? That's pitiful. The UCLA front 7 was getting pressure all day and after the first series I could tell we were in for a long afternoon. There was no effort by the coaching staff to shore-up the line where the Bruin defense was getting pressure. To me that show's a lack of broad based planning. I mean it is only a one dimensional defense; speed rush and get pressure the Bruin secondary is a sieve and I believe they are ranked something like 75th in the nation in passing defense. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out.
From Adande's column in the LA Times:
"I just made my mind up: we've got to put pressure on Booty," Walker said. "That was my whole game plan."
So Walker sent Carter on a linebacker blitz right from the go. Carter forced Booty to rush an incomplete pass, knocked him to the ground and then stood over the Trojan.
"I told him to get used to it," Carter said. "It's going to be here all day."
That was it pretty much how it went the whole day and Kiffin and Sarkisian had no answer for it and Booty was doomed to failure. The lack of a passing attack made me wonder if Jarrett and Smith even suited up for the game. They were nowhere to be found. You know you are in for a long day when Fred Davis' name is called more than Jarrett and Smith you know you are in for a long day. I'm not going tell Pete Carroll how to coach but it does make you wonder what the heck was going on in the team meetings during the past week.
I am disappointed about this loss but I am even more puzzled at the lack of production in the 2nd half. That to me is more damning than losing. If you lose and put up a good fight like we did against Oregon St. then pick yourself up and dust yourself off and get back to it, but the lack of showing or adjustments in this game really leave me puzzled.