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USC Football 2016: Back to the Drawing Board

The Trojans are headed back to the drawing board after suffering a disappointing loss against Stanford 27-10.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Trojans are headed back to the drawing board after suffering a disappointing loss against Stanford 27-10. There are many things that could go up on that board, but here are few issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible:

Allowing The Big Play

Stanford’s first touchdown came on a play-action wheel route from the usual suspect Christian McCaffrey, who scampered up the sideline for 56 yards. Two Trojans were tricked by the run-fake which allowed the Heisman Trophy candidate to fly right by them untouched. The problem on this play was the defense not all being on the same page, in most cases, there should be a linebacker or safety covering the running back out of the backfield but neither were present. Blown coverages have been a common theme this season, the Trojans’ defense allowed 3 touchdowns against Alabama due to breakdowns in the secondary.

Stanford’s second touchdown came on a reverse play as Michael Rector ran by the entire USC defense. Reverse plays work off of leverage, the play-side cornerback should be the first to recognize reverse plays and alert his teammates. There should be a backside defensive end, linebacker and safety who checks for trickery plays, which would balance the leverage. Obviously there was a breakdown on this particular play, which resulted in a 56 yard touchdown that shut the door on the Trojans.

USC has to sort out their defensive issues to limit big plays. The momentum swing can be hard to overcome after a big play, so the Trojans should make this a priority if they want to turn this season around.

Scoring Touchdowns

USC’s offense had trouble scoring against the Cardinal defense. There were a few drives that the Trojans’ offense looked very good, but there seemed to be something missing, which happened to be touchdowns. The Trojans had three drives that were stymied by false start penalties, turning 3rd-and-mediums to 3rd-and-longs. All three drives failed to score a touchdown. Hypothetically speaking, if they score a touchdown on one of those drives, the entire scope of the game changes. USC has to capitalize on scoring opportunities if they want to re-emerge as a top team in the country. This team is too talented for the constant mental lapses which is becoming the theme of this season.

Make a final QB Decision

Max Browne took the bulk of the snaps last night against the Cardinal defense. He threw some accurate passes and moved the ball well at times. He looked very good coming out of the half as USC went on their touchdown scoring drive. He seems to play better when the pace and tempo was high for the offense. He threw a great pass in the end-zone that should have been caught by JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second half. He did have troubles when pressure was in his face but overall he played a safe game. Sam Darnold came in late and made some impressive throws and led an impressive drive until he was picked off in the redzone. Darnold plays with a swagger and a mystique that makes his game attractive to the eye, which is the reason many supporters are hoping he’ll takeover as the starter.

Having a two quarterback system is very tough to manage and can divide the locker room if the team isn’t winning. The Trojans need to make a decision on what direction they want to go in with their leader on offense and stick to it. The fanbase already seems divided on this issue and we hope this issue doesn’t consume the team as well.

The Trojans have a quick turnaround this week as they battle Utah on Friday evening.

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