That is going to be the recurring theme for last night's loss.
And it will be with us for a while.
What could have been...
Whether or not USC's defense would have stopped ND when they got the ball back doesn't matter....that is all speculation.
If Ronald Johnson catches that deep ball, Mustain and RoJo would go down in USC history as one of USC's greatest hook-ups.
Both the QB and the receivers had mediocre nights. Either the passes had too little zip or they were overthrown. Then there were some of those that were catchable that were dropped.
But Mustain and RoJo still had a chance to pull it off...
Trailing 20-16 with less than 90 seconds to play, Mustain lofted a long third-down pass to Johnson, who was wide open when safety Harrison Smith slipped on the wet turf. Johnson, however, could not hold on to the ball at the Irish 15, missing a certain touchdown.
"I should have made the play. I let my team down," said Johnson, who had six catches for 40 yards. "Mitch made a great pass.
The pass might not have been perfect but it was there.
It was in his hands.
Johnson probably made the most common mistake that often happens when such a situation occurs. He started thinking and probably had a burst of adrenaline, started thinking about getting to the end zone before he secured the ball...end of story.
How many times have we seen that on even the most routine of plays?
Johnson was at the 15-yard line, even with the safety coming over he probably would have scored. We caught a break when the defender slipped, RoJo just couldn't seal the deal. Mustain finally put one down field that was pretty much on the numbers.
I can't be upset at RoJo.
He worked his ass off in the off season to get better, after missing a good chunk of the season last year due to his shoulder injury. He has been a solid receiver for us when utilized, remember the Rose Bowl against Penn St? I can't really say much more about Mustain. Part of it was Kiffin playing conservative and part of it was a significant lack of real time game experience for Mustain over the past 3 years...no sense in rehashing it.
Perfecting your timing comes with time...one week of taking 90% of the primary snaps in practices isn't enough.
But this one could not have been any more picture perfect...it looked like they had been on the field together for years.
What could have been...