After going 9-4 and losing for the first time in November under Pete Carroll, there were many obvious problems that existed for the 2009 USC football team. Defensive miscues, poor tackling, penalties, inexperience at key positions, the lack of a consistent running game, and other issues plagued the Trojans throughout the year. So the latest comments from Marc Tyler shouldn't come as a big surprise to anybody. From the Orange County Register:
"At the end, guys started going different ways. ... When we started losing a little bit, you could tell we had certain guys who were just like, ‘Man, I'm just going to worry about myself and get ready for the draft - get myself healthy.' And guys who weren't playing as much as they thought they should, they just got mad and said, ‘Forget this, we're not going to the Rose Bowl, so what's the point of practicing hard and doing stuff hard?' "
With the way things now appear under Lane Kiffin, that type of attitude seems to be headed out the door north to the Emerald City. From all the buzz I've heard around campus, it looks as if the new coaching staff has already begun instilling a new work ethic among the current group of players. Not to say that 'SC didn't work hard under Pete Carroll, but there has quite a noticeable differences regarding the competitive drive between Carroll's old staff and the new guys in town.
And that's a big deal.
Ed Orgeron is visiting anywhere from 10-15 high schools in Southern California per day and aims to visit every one in the region before fall camp gets underway. Kiffin and company are spending far more time in the football offices in Heritage Hall than before. That type of work ethic among the coaches just wasn't existent with Carroll and company during the 2009 season.
But can you really blame him in the end? After seven consecutive Pac-10 titles and two national championships, complacency has to settle in - at least on some level. And that looked to be the case with Carroll.After nine years, the message got old among the players and the drive to be great just wasn't the same as it was in 2004. Attitude reflects leadership, and after considering Tyler's remarks, the lack of discipline seems to be an entirely logical conclusion.
I can't tell if the team will be better off when it comes to Xs and Os or producing victories at the end of the day. After all, winning as much as Carroll did during his nine seasons is a big challenge for anybody so the idea that Kiffin is a lock to match Caesar's success is a far-fetched idea in its own right. But in comparison to the way things went down in 2009, next year's group should be in a good position to better its success from a year ago.
Based on the effort alone of the current staff, it appears as if the team in 2010 will work harder and be a far more disciplined unit than last year's squad. I'm sure of that at this point in time, but the million dollar question now is whether that produces more than nine victories and a trip to a lower-tier bowl game.