The offense struggled in the early goings last night but things are progressing though not as fas as the coaching staff probably wants. The Offensive line is still the biggest question with so many young faces its just going to take some more time to come together.
"We're getting farther along," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "The first-team offense ended up better against the No. 1 defense. That's as good as Miller looked. We have some ways to go. We're not ready yet. We need to have a big third week."
The offensive line remained a question mark, as Corp and Mustain were sacked too many times and there were a handful of false starts.
"I thought the pressure of the front seven, the linebackers running around really hurt (the offense)," Carroll said.
Well when you are going up against the best defense in the nation its going to be tough for it to all come together quickly. More important, this is a real character builder for the offense, the defense isn't just going to roll over so the offense has to earn every yard and they have the horses to do that but protection of the QB will be the key. With Mustain and Corp constantly running for their life it is easy to see how they can force things at times. It isn't going to get any easier so they just need to batton down the hatches and hang on for a wild ride.
Here are some numbers:
[...] Aaron Corp (12 of 16, 64 yards, one interception) got the team there first, with Stafon Johnson (five carries for 58 yards) taking the ball 46 yards on a quick pitch to help set up his 3-yard TD run.
[...] Mustain (6 for 12 for 118 yards, a TD and an INT) came back, going the length of the field in four quick plays in the two-minute drill with a 26-yard TD toss to Travon Patterson. Garrett Green hit on 6 of 10 passes for 63 yards with a TD pass to Brice Butler and an interception.
Those same issues with the O line that have made it difficult for the QB's and the passing game also affect the running game as well.
[...] Johnson (58 yards rushing and a touchdown in five carries) and Allen Bradford (37 yards in four carries) shined at times, but Carroll accurately described the running game as "a little hit and miss."
Of course the running games struggles reopen the questions about all the depth that SC has at the RB spot.
So many tailbacks, so little urgency.
The season opener at Virginia is less than two weeks away, but USC's coaching staff is in no hurry to designate a starter or a firm rotation at tailback.
Juniors Stafon Johnson and Allen Bradford, sophomores C.J. Gable and Joe McKnight and redshirt freshmen Broderick Green and Marc Tyler offer USC a variety of skill-sets and combinations. The challenge, once again, will be finding ways to deploy them and keep the peace.
Well, as I have noted numerous times and as the article itself points out the amount of injuries last season showed just how important depth is. Again, I think a lot of this comes from not having the offensive line locked in to where the staff wants them to be. This really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone as it has been discussed in numerous places by a number of different writers and pundits. The talent isn't as thin as the depth. Byers being out early on hurts in regards to senior leadership. Losing Rachal early is another blow to depth and experience but we can't live in the past.
One thing the offensive line has no bearing on are the turnovers that plague the offense. That needs to get fixed and quick
A couple of other observations from what I read this morning. It was good to see Travon Paterson back on the field after he tweaked his ankle a couple of days ago, thankfully it wasn't a serious injury. Unfortunately, Cary Harris went down with a shoulder injury after a head on collision with Allen Bradford. Harris going down potentially opens the door for Wright to fight for a starting job. But we have some depth at CB.
Numbers Don't Tell Story
Check out the preseason previews and there it is: USC returns just one starter at cornerback.
With Alta Loma's Terrell Thomas off to the NFL, that leaves Harris. Or so the official numbers say.
But check with the USC cornerbacks and coaches and the number is really four. Wright, Kevin Thomas and Josh Pinkard all have started at cornerback in their USC careers.
"We do have four," secondary coach Rocky Seto said Friday.
Right at the top is Wright, who is having a "lights-out camp," Seto said.
Jeff Byers saw some contact early as he makes his way back from being infected by Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. In fact he pushed it on Friday.
Jeff Byers was given "an inch" by the USC medical staff and "took a mile" Friday, he said, as he pushed the envelope on his comeback from Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In his first contact work in the August camp, he ran at left guard with the first unit.
So was he officially cleared for all activity? Well, he expects to be, he said.
Heck If I were in his position I would jump on the opportunity too!
The overall impression is that things are improving but there is still a ways to go. It will all come together but it will take time and until it does the comfort level won't be as secure as it was last year but I have no doubt that it will all come together. I am no longer concerned about undefeated seasons or wire-to-wire #1 rankings. In this type of environment that is an unrealistic expectation, I want the team to be the near the top and be in a position to seize one of the top 2 spots at the end of the season so we can get to Miami. I see no reason why it won't happen.
Finally, I get a kick out of reading some of the tag lines in local papers about how things are progressing. I think at times the press is as impatient as the fans are. They too have been spoiled with all that Pete Carroll has done with this team and they hungry for more.
That's fine with me, as the alternative is just across town...