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A Different Feel

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Well it wasn't pretty and they were even less productive than they were against Stanford last week. I certainly wouldn't see were "back" and I wouldn't say that things are back on track but it was nice to see a little spark from McKnight and it was nice to see Sanchez find just a tiny bit of a groove. For starting his first game, with a depleted offensive line and receivers who are still having trouble hanging on to the ball it was an OK performance.

I got a kick out of reading Plaschke this morning with his analysis of this years USC team. I have said it in the past that we will never see another group like Leinart, Bush, White etc. talent like that only comes together once in a blue moon and while we have seen other teams amass great talent but they haven't done it with the results that Pete Carroll did with that group. We always knew that the other teams in the Pac 10 would catch up to SC while SC was falling back to the pack. You are seeing this now so it really shouldn't be surprising. Of course with all the hype that we have had thrown our way the past few years, some justified some not, SC coming back to the pack has been a little harder on us fans than had gone through a natural progression.

This USC team is not yet worth shouting about.

Those who watched only the fourth quarter of the Trojans' 20-13 escape from Arizona on Saturday will rave about the snapshots of McKnight and Sanchez.

But those who witnessed the previous three hours saw the bigger picture.

These Trojans are more ordinary than outstanding. These Trojans are more about surviving than steamrolling.

Stanford was not an anomaly. Stanford was not a fantasy. Tough fights with mediocrity is the new USC reality.

These Trojans are far worse than a preseason No. 1, far less than a regular-season powerhouse and far from being a big-bowl postseason lock.

Come on Bill, there were a number of us that didn't buy into the hype, it was you guys in the MSM that pumped it up before a game was even played. You guys were mesmerized by it just like a snake in a Bombay street market just like most everyone else.

Injuries continue to hurt this team and it showed on the offensive line yesterday. That to me is one of the main reasons for their fall from grace. Sanchez's mobility kept him out of trouble there for the most part but he can't do that forever.

Playmakers, or should I say a lack there of, continue to make it difficult for SC to put teams away. I saw an interesting quote from Sarkisian that really made me bristle.

"Everyone has to learn, even we've had to learn," said offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian with a look of weary relief in the locker room.

Who does he think he is Karl Dorrell??

I'm sorry, while I can accept the injury issue; this "learning" thing he speaks of is a direct result of NOT hiring adequate replacements to the coaching staff once the big guns left. There is no doubt we have the talent but when you don't even hire a Special Teams coach the attention to detail is lacking.

I don't like to feel that Joe McKnight is the savior of this team. That s a lot to place on one guy especially when others have not done an adequate job of stepping up, like the receivers. Of course everyone wants see SC dominate but those days, at least for now, have left us. Playing closer than normal games will be the way it is for a while at least until SC can either get healthy or improve their level of play.

I am not sold on Sanchez being the savior either but he gets a pass for now while he works his way into the system and I don't agree with some of Plaschke's remarks here.

Now step back to quarterback, where Sanchez will be the buzz of the town this week after leading the team on that final 93-yard field-goal drive.

The players love his leadership, the coaches loves his versatility, but everybody better learn to endure his inconsistency, the crazy passes and futile runs that turn into sacks.

"He's like a gunslinger out there," said tackle Drew Radovich, and you know how those old westerns sometimes end.

Part of that inconsistency and crazy passes is part of a guy getting a feel for his first real start. It also has to do with plying behind a line that has some serious depth issues and I'm not sure all of his "futile" runs turn into sacks. I recall one play where the opposing linebacker stayed at home on bootleg where Sanchez was able to out maneuver the opposing LB in order to get rid of the ball, which would have been sure sack with Booty.

So, am I thrilled with yesterday's performance? Not at all, but I am happy that there was just a little spark that with a healthy team could turn into fire. It won't be dominating like it used to be but it doesn't have to be, it just needs to be consistently good. A number of writers have all said the same thing. Get used to it, this is the way its going to be for a while. That's fine as long as we win, watching some of the other teams the last few weeks hasn't really impressed me either so everyone is going through the rough patch.

More on that later.