It's no secret that USC has been one of the most penalized teams in the Pac-10 the past few seasons. It has become so bad that Pete Carroll has brought it up at Pac-10 media day and sent letters about it to Pac-10 officials. That being said, the penalties continue to hurt us and finally the coaching staff took some action. It was mentioned earlier in the week Averell Spicer lost his starting job because he committed two very costly penalties. This was good move by the coaches to send a strong message.
I'm really paying for it now -- I'm not starting this week because of that," Spicer said Wednesday. "Coach had a talk with me and said that they can't start me having two personal fouls in a game.
"They told me I was supposed to be a better leader, to lead by example, and I definitely wasn't doing it. I understand that."
Spicer was among the defensive linemen who struggled against an Oregon State offensive front that pushed the Trojans off the line of scrimmage and led a 186-yard rushing effort by running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
Spicer, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound junior from Rancho Cucamonga, was flagged late in the first half on a third-and-goal play that had resulted in an incomplete pass. Instead of having to kick a field goal, Oregon State was awarded a first down at the three with less than 10 seconds left.
"I just lost my head," Spicer said of an exchange with a Beavers lineman. "There were a lot of late hits going on. It's always the second guy that gets caught. I learned that first hand."
I can accept hard hits by the secondary that get flagged by the officials, I can accept most holding calls because they are judgment calls anyway. I can even accept a DB committing PI if it saves a TD because he is getting burned, but Personal Foul penalties out of frustration can't be accepted and its appropriate that the coaches finally took some action. Spicer has some big shoes to fill in replacing Sedrick Ellis and his play on the field is key for the defense to be effective so the bone head plays have to stop.
Christian Tupou moves into the starting spot at nose tackle where he gets to take on big brother, Feneki Tupou, is a 6-6, 330-pound senior starter at left offensive tackle for the Ducks, with Spicer rotating in.
I realize its early yet but one thing that hasn't been discussed is wht the defesne will look like next season. Rey, Kaluka and Cush all head to the pros at the linebacker spot so there are going to be some new faces backing up the defensive line. One of those new faces that has high expectations is redshirt freshman Chris Gallipo. WIth his back finally healed after lumbar disc surgery over the summer expect to see him get some significant playing time moving forward. WIth Maualuga probably out for Saturday's game against Oregon it looks like Cush will move to the middle on some plays while Gallipo will see some action on others. This is actually a good thing for Cush as it is his natural spot.There is still an outside chance of Maualuga playing but I am not counting on it.
If senior Rey Maualuga remains sidelined because of a knee sprain, Galippo might be running the defense for a team looking to bounce back from an upset loss at Oregon State.
"Sometimes opportunity's just thrown at you and you just have to be ready for it," Galippo said Tuesday after his second full practice.
Now, Gallipo has a lot of catching up to do so I wouldn't expect him to be 100% effective out there, but his getting up to speed and becoming a playmker is key to the future. We are going to see a lot of different looks at LB on Saturday. Clay Matthews can play stronside LB if he isn't playing DE but it is more likely that Mike Morgan will play strongside with Matthews rotating with Griffen at DE who also had a terrible game on Saturday.
Make no mistake this game is going to be a character builder for many. Not having Rey on the field hurts us becuse some of our guys are fully up to speed but I think its more psychological. Rey being out gives others a chance to step up and make plays just like it did last year with Cush being out when he injured his ankle. Its not the perfect scenario as you always want your players on the field but this is how the game is played and you have seize the opportunity when its offered up to you. With Oregon coming in on Saturday gaining 300+ yards of offense per game the defense needs to step up adn get back to where they were against Ohio State.
OG Zach Heberer will miss significant time with a sprained toe so that means Alex Parsons will step in at right guard. The offensive line's performance against Oregon State definitely left a lot of peoples heads shaking. Their lights out performances against UVA and Ohio State left many of us pleasantly surprised that they had realy come together as a group but after Oregon St. those questions quickly arose. The O lines performance was what I expected in the first game as they got their sea legs under them but after last Thursdays I am pretty perplexed.
There has been some talk of Vidal Hazelton redshirting but as is mentioned here the coaching staff has a policy of not discussing possible redshirts and they haven't made a decision yet on Hazeltons progress after his ankle sprain a couple of weeks ago. We are definitely going to see RoJo get more playing time and there was also some talk about Ausberry getting into the game plan more. The receivers, led by Damian Williams, have been a bright spot this season. Williams has definitely raised the level of competition and that is what was needed after lackluster performances the past two seasons.
Lastly, the running back situation is getting a lot of attention. Allen Bradford's comments in the paper the other day opened up a lot of questions about how best to utilize "The Stable" as its been called. The OCR has number of interesting reads you should take a look at here, here, here, and here. Personally I would like to see one or two backs in the featured back role then use McKnight's special talents to shake some things up. We'll what they come up with on Saturday.
Tomorrow we will take a look at Oregon...