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After reading the observations from the local rags a couple of things stood out to me that shouldn't be ignored.
You can't really rationalize the defense giving up 600 yards and 53 points but they did look like they played better...better tackling, not over pursuing and playing more disciplined. The technique just seemed to look better. The pass defense isn't worth a crap, with the middle of the field open for big plays all night. I don't know who is to blame, is it Monte's defense? Or is it that the players aren't that good.
Lots of questions on defense but I refuse to point fingers...I've got this teams back no matter what even if I am frustrated with what I am seeing on the field.
Wholesale changes need to take place in the off season to improve the defense. The scheme just doesn't work with more and more teams playing the spread.
'SC scoring 15 points and taking the lead early into the 3rd quarter showed me a lot. These guys didn't quit. The plan looked solid. Lane Kiffin is a solid play caller but he still needs to polish a few things up. I think the offense got caught up in trying to score quick to try and keep pace with Oregon and that led to a few miscues like the muffed snap that led to the fumble.
Here are some observations from RipsIt...I don't really disagree with too much of it.
Here is some of the ESPN version...
For a Trojans' offense that looked nearly pitch-perfect two weeks ago on the same field against Cal, a game with no real offensive stars was a departure from the expected. Matt Barkley (26-of-49 for 264 yards, one touchdown and two picks) looked more like a freshman than the sophomore Heisman candidate he'd been developing into in the past few weeks, Tyler and the running backs never got started and even Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods were held under 70 yards each. "Maybe it was the route-running, the play-calling or the blocking assignments," said Johnson, who had the Trojans' only touchdown through the air. "We just gotta go back and fix that.'
I wouldn't say that the offense regressed like some are whining on the boards but the offense definitely wasn't as smooth as it was against Cal or Stanford. I didn't understand the use of Havili in some those slow developing running plays. I do take exception with Saxon slamming Barkley here though. What a guy can't have an off game? Is he really serious that Barkley looked like a freshman last night?
I think Barkley has shown great progress and maturity this season. Did he look great last night?
No. But the overall package looks much better than last year. Will there be fits and starts at times? Yes. But I don't see him looking tentative overall like he did last season.
I do agree with this observation though...
USC assistant head coach Monte Kiffin said a number of times in preparing for this game that his Tampa 2 defense was not built to stop Oregon's spread-option attack. Whatever modifications he implemented over the past two weeks weren't either, as the Ducks were visibly prepared for most of what the Trojans offered at them. And if they weren't, they appeared to adjust quickly. Oregon coach Chip Kelly said postgame that his staff went back and looked at Kiffin's play-calling tendencies against running quarterbacks as far back as his time in the NFL to get a gauge for what the Trojans could do. "It was what we expected," Kelly said afterward. "We broke down every game Monte coached at USC and at Tennessee and what he did against Michael Vick with the Falcons. We felt we had a pretty good idea of what they would do and we had some pretty good counters ready."
I don't care how many Super Bowls Monte has won. I don't care that is a Hall of Fame lock. I do care that he has stuck with this antiquated defense when it is well known that this defense doesn't do well with running QB's especially with kids who are inexperienced.
The college game has passed Monte by. This isn't the boring NFL schemes that he is used to running.
Like I alluded to above, Monte either needs to pull a few rabbits out his hat and adjust or he needs to move on. The latter would not surprise me at the end of the season.
Outside of pride 'SC has very little to play for. This was their bowl game. The games at the end of the season against ND and UCLA are pretty much anti-climatic to me. Of course I want to win but I really want the team to improve so they can get better in the years to come...when the sanctions really start to take effect.
I saw some improvement last night but there is still a long way to go...