Ready To Go!!
So the season is finally here!
We didn't get too crazy about today's game against Idaho because...well...it's Idaho. No disrespect intended to our friends from up north but this is more of a tune-up game for SC. With all the preseason hype from Harbaugh to the punditry it gets a little mind numbing. The off-season was fairly quiet said for a few transfers both to and from USC and the brief blip on the screen that was the Todd McNair story.
As was the case last season USC even with all of the talent on the roster has more than a few questions as the season get underway. So where are we at and what should we look for in the season opener? The L.A. Times has five questions to ask SC as we head into the season.
- Can John David Booty take the next step?
- So, what about those receivers?
- Will a dominant tailback emerge?
- Is this the best defense of the Pete Carroll era?
- Can the Trojans go wire to wire at No. 1?
By our third game the first three questions should be answered, the last two at least to me are unimportant. If the defense plays as well as advertised then they will be the ones to lead us to the title game.
[...]That might not be worrisome until you consider sophomore Stafon Johnson was the only tailback to survive training camp without an injury.
[...]The other offensive weakness was the lack of a breakaway widereceiver, especially with twintowers Patrick Turner (6-foot-5) and David Ausberry (6-4) starting. There was hope freshman Ronald Johnson would be that burner, but he offered inconsistent moments in training camp and never really looked like the freshman editions of Mike Williams or Dwayne Jarrett.
"We think Ronald Johnson can stretch a defense and we're not convinced that Patrick, David or Vidal (Hazelton) won't do it," Carroll said. "Remember, Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett were never speed guys."
So those questions remain, but now there are more about the offense, as center Kris O'Dowd becomes the first true freshman to ever start a game for the Trojans at that position.
The Idaho game should be an audition for O'Dowd. If he succeeds, he should start against Nebraska. If he fails, expect guard Jeff Byers to switch over to center.
"I want to give (O'Dowd) a chance," Carroll said. "When we look at the film, we like keeping Byers at guard and giving Kris that chance to step up right away."
More important is the health of the O line because of the all of the injuries and new faces will they come together and provide Booty the protection and open some holes for the running backs. As mentioned above, Kris O'Dowd will be only the third true freshman to start in USC history and with Chilo Rachal and Jeff Byers on the line with him he will get a crash course with this new level of competition. Fred Davis will also be a key component as he will surely se more action as the new receivers get settled in. Davis' season last year was average and he looks to be more of a presence this season.
Booty needs to come out firing to get the receivers into a groove. Turner knows the drill but Ausberry who will be making his first start is sure to have some butterflies to deal with. They are the new twin towers but it will be tough to replace Smith and Jarrett. As I've said in the past I am actually less worried about the receivers than I am about the running game because no one has yet stepped up to be The Man. This is Chauncey Washington's last shot so this one is for all the marbles, can he be the dominant back that we didn't have last year. Health has been an issue at the running back spot and all of the talk about USC's greed at running back has been a bit tiring. The key to a successful running game will be the fullback position, if Stanley Havili can stay healthy and provide the extra option at fullback that was sorely missed last season then we should be in good shape.
Since the end of the Rose Bowl the anticipation of this season has been front and center.
The death of Mario Danelo and the early speculation of Pete Carroll going to the NFL gave us pause to realize that nothing is forever. Our sprits were boosted with another incredible signing day and the enjoyment of watching the basketball team make an impressive run into the tournament.
Spring ball gave us an anxious feeling as we saw the potential this team had with some new faces in prominent positions as we said goodbye to those who gave us some great memories as they went to the next level.
Training camp really opened our eyes as we finally saw the talent we had amassed in one place and made us all wonder if magic can strike again. Players stepped up to be noticed like Stafon and Ausberry while others solidified their position, like Washington and Turner, as they settled into positions of leadership on the team.
"We have watched him grow up," Coach Pete Carroll said. "And now he is ready."
Ready to shoulder most of the carries in the wake of nagging injuries to C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford, Chauncey Washington and Joe McKnight.
Ready to be the type of Trojans running back that the inner city has waited years to spawn.
Ready to make someone proud.
The new talent has shown why they were so coveted by other programs. McKnight, Green, RoJo and Griffen are all names that we will be hearing for a few years to come. Sadly we said good-bye to two players who chose not stick it out in search of greener pastures.
What if the biggest national news was, not loco, but local?
Say you pulled out a map, took a math compass, stuck the needle at downtown and extended the pointer to Westwood, then penciled a giant, sweeping arc, and that was your circumference?
Say the major ramifications came to a head under our face-lifts, in a town with no NFL football, no Kobe Bryant resolution, no Elton Brand with the Clippers, no Dodgers in the playoffs, and possibly no foothold secured by David Beckham?
What if, come Dec. 1 at the Coliseum, USC was 11-0 and, gulp, so was UCLA?
And maybe this time, a USC defender intercepts a last-second pass to keep UCLA out of the national title game.
Gulp my ass...how about utter shock! Predictions on the baby bruins has been all over the map so lets see if they can get out of their own way.
Like it or not SC has received a lot of hype and could be the team to beat. That other team from across town whose only accolades are their win against us last year and the hype of 20 returning starters have expectations, at least for them, that have never been higher. How will they do? Who knows and really, who cares, as their coach will find a way to fold and probably win just enough games to keep his job along with their own criminal on their coaching staff. It's a pity as the rivalry could be so much better with more consistent competition than just an occasional fluke win. But a good ucla team does wonders to quell the issues of all the talk about a soft Pac 10. Cal needs to do their part tonight against Tennessee and they are out for some payback after last years embarrassing loss in Knoxville.
So, it's game day. No more predictions, no more hype no more speculation.
It's Just Time...For Football!!
Think Booty's ready? I do!
...And just in case you're not ready this site should be motivation enough. Too funny. HT: CFR