Tuesday, October 25, 2005

That's What I'm Talking About!

The Trojans returned to their dominating form with a convincing 51-24 win over the Washington Huskies. More importantly, the Trojans have finally finished a grueling stretch of 5 road games out of the first seven contests, including 2 sets of back to back road games. USC now plays its last 5 games in California, including 4 games at the Coliseum. This long stretch at (or near) home will make the USC players happy enough to dance.

Tailgate Update

  • Tailgate will be in its usual spot and will be there plenty early
  • Breakfast served in the morning with a TV schedule of GameDay at 7:30am and either Oklahoma vs Nebraska or Clemson vs Georgia Tech at 9:00am
  • Menu is breakfast burittos, bagels, pancakes and donuts
  • Late lunch/early dinner after the game with UCLA/Stanford game on TV. Good chance to watch 2 future USC opponents
  • Game is a sellout...92,000fans and homecoming
Notes & Tidbits on UW Game

  • USC had it's lowest offensive output of the season (in terms of yards), but that was due more to field position than Washington's defense...USC only punted once
  • The Trojans broke a string of games with a 100yd rusher as both Bush and White were under the century mark
  • The offense seemed to be in a much better rhythm and went back to shorter drops and shorter passes....it was nice to see Dom Byrd catch some balls in this game
  • Speaking of tight ends, Fred Davis is turning into a punishing run blocker. I think Fred has a very bright future at USC and he will continue to make larger contributions as the season progresses
  • Brian Cushing made his return to the field and seemed to be in on every play...including the first blocked punt of the year by the Trojans. Cushing seems to have a nose for the ball, much like Matt Grootegood did, but Cushing weighs in at 6'4" 230lbs vs Groots at 5'11" 210
  • Leinart looked much more relaxed and seemed to let the game flow to him...much fewer forced throws down the field
  • Jarrett continues to amaze with 3 TD catches, including a ridiculous one hand grab in the back corner of the endzone. Jarrett will likely break all of Mike Williams TD records before he is done at USC

  • It was nice to see Reggie get a punt return for a TD.....now I would like to see #5 turn it up field a bit more on kickoff returns
  • How about that kickoff return by Darnell Bing...that was very impressive for a 6'3" 220lb safety!
  • It was a shame to see John Walker get hurt. Walker has been beaten a few times this year, but the kid is a warrior and a true Trojan. I hope we see #18 back on the field soon. More on the cornerback situation below
  • The Trojan defense recorded 5 sacks and only allowed 59yds rushing. The Trojans have stuffed the run all year and are starting to put pressure on the quarterback...believe it or not, I am really starting to like what I see on this defense. More on this below

Notes & Tidbits for the WSU Game

  • Make no mistake, this is a very, very dangerous Washington State Cougar football team. The Cougs had Cal down 10 with 5 minutes to go and had the Bruins down 17 in the 4th quarter, but found a way to lose both these games
  • The Cougs are very explosive on offense and are averaging almost 520yds in total offense per game (#3 in Pac 10 and 6th nationally)
  • Jerome Harrison leads the way for the Cougs' rushing attack (he is ranked #1 in Pac 10 and 2nd nationally at 166yds/game) while Jason Hill is one of the best receivers in the conference and nation (ranked #1 in Pac 10 in yds/catch and #2 in TDs, catches/game and yds/game)
  • The Cougs are averaging almost 40pts a game, good enough for 3rd in the conference and and 9th nationally
  • WSU's QB play has been a bit shakey with Alex Brink throwing 10 interceptions (3rd worst in Pac 10) and completing only 55% of his passes
  • The Cougs depend on the big play to score, resulting in low completion percentage, stalled drives and low time of possession
  • Look for the Trojans to stuff the run and force Brink to throw underneath...something the Cougs do not like to do. I am sure the Trojans focused all week on not letting Jason Hill catch deep balls behind the secondary
  • I've been told that coach Carroll is very pleased with his "new" secondary. Pinkard is playing better and better at the corner position and true frosh #15 Kevin Thomas (Keto) really impressed coaches with his play against UW
  • True frosh #7 Cary Harris and #26 Will Harris will start to see time as well
  • If the front 7 can continue its solid play, I am starting believe that the Trojan secondary can be much better as the season goes on...if this happens, the Trojans will be even tougher to beat

  • The Cougs have tendency to turn the ball over (16 turnovers in 7 games, vs 9 for the Trojans) including 11 turnovers in 4 Pac 10 games
  • WSU plays an aggressive blitzing style of defense, which has allowed them to total 26 sacks (6th nationally). However, with that aggressive defense comes opportunities. I would expect to see USC have the opportunity to make some big plays on the Cougs (preferably on slants and screens!)
  • The Cougs are ranked in the middle of the Pac 10 defensively (#7 in scoring D, #5 in rushing D, #6 in passing D and #5 in total D)
  • All Pac 10 LB Will Derting and outstanding WR/PR Michael Bumpus are out for the Cougs this week

Should be a great game and an electric environment in the Coliseum. Look forward to seeing everyone there. Let's hope the Trojans can grind out another victory over a tough Pac 10 opponent.

Fight On!

Friday, October 21, 2005


USC vs ND. Trojans vs Irish. Tailback U vs The Four Horsemen. EPSN GameDay. You name it and it was talked about....this game had all the hype in the world....and the game exceeded the hype. I know all of you watched/attended the game so I am not going to discuss it ad nauseum, but I will say that it was quite an experience to be there in person. One of the most exciting games I have ever attended. It was also fun to have the CBS affiliate in South Bend film 2 live segments from the tailgate at the stadium. Andy & Liz are trying to track down the tape of the segments....it was classic! Yes the picture below is Jarrett's catch on 4th and 9.

I was very pleased with how the defense played, particularly the front 7 who allowed the Irish only 2.9yds per carry. It was disappointing to see the defense unable to get off the field on third down, but Trojans made plays including a great forced fumble by Darnell Bing in a critical situation and a jarring hit by Scott Ware

Obviously Reggie carried the day with 3 outstanding TD runs, Leinart was not his typically sharp self, but made some huge plays down the stretch. The Trojans continue to grind out very difficult wins in hostile road environments. I know the Trojans can play better and I continue to bedisappointed in the penalties, dropped passes and lack of "crispness" displayed by USC....these are not characteristics of USC football under Pete Carroll. More importantly, THIS TEAM PLAYS WITH HEART! ...the heart of a champion and this should make us all proud.

Notes & Tidbits

  • I expect to see some subtle changes in the offense this week vs Washington...changes designed to help Leinart regain some rhythm and confidence
  • I think we will see the return of the slant, the bubble screen, the 3 step drop and the tight end over the middle...less fades, less sideline routes, more middle routes
  • UW is very thin in the secondary right now (ranked #111 in Passing D)....don't be surprised to see UW put 8 in the box to stop the run and play the corners/safety deep to prevent the big play....USC (this season) has not wanted to take the underneath routes
  • UW is a much improved team vs last year...particularly offensively. QB Isiah Stanback is a great athlete...very mobile with a strong arm (ranked #49 in Passing O). UW threw for more yards against the Irish than USC did
  • UW played UCLA very tough, losing the game on a Bruin TD in the last 2 minutes
  • Reggie is nursing a bad hip, but is expected to play
  • This is the second string of back to back road games for the Trojans and ends a streak of 5 of the first 7 games on the road
  • The Trojans are ranked in the top4 in rushing o, passing o, total o and scoring o....not bad!
  • Thanks to everyone who helped out at the tailgate in South Bend....tons of fun and memories for a lifetime

Lets hope the Trojans can grind out another tough win on the road and come back to the friendly confines of the Coliseum next week for the Cougars.

Fight On!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

USC and ESPN GameDay visit South Bend

For some reason the media (both local and national) think the Trojans did not play well on Saturday vs the Arizona Wildcats. Well, other than about 6 plays, the Trojans played outstanding in my opinion. Here are some quick stats to back this up:

  • USC gained 724 yds and only allowed 245 yds for the Wildcats, 500 yds difference in total yards is getting it done
  • USC had 39 first downs vs 12 for Arizona
  • The Trojans rushed for 337 yds vs 64 for the Wildcats
  • USC had 2 players each rush for over 100yd for the 3rd consecutive week
  • USC was 10-14 on 3rd down conversions vs 1-9 for Arizona
  • USC held the ball for 37 minutes vs 23 for Arizona
  • USC had touchdown drives of 96,95,88,83,80 and 80 yards

Those numbers do not indicate that the Trojans struggled. The Wildcats had absolutely outstanding special teams, were +2 on turnovers, completed two long passes....and still lost by 21. If USC does not turn the ball over (2 plays) and allow 2 long pass plays (2 plays), it would have been a much larger margin of victory. The kickoff coverage needs a ton of work, but the Trojans are still playing pretty good football right now.


Notre Dame Preview and Other Tidbits

This game holds a unique place in college football lore and is without a doubt the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. This game is always special and this year will be no different with the ESPN GameDay crew, a sold out stadium and national television audience. This is quite simply USC vs Notre Dame and there is nothing better. This is likely the most hyped USC vs Notre Dame game since 1988 and Irish fans are claiming it is the biggest game in South Bend since Florida State in 1993.

This will be the fourth time that the tailgate crew has been in attendance for GameDay and it is an awesome experience. The Trojans have won three huge games with GameDay in attendance (Rose Bowl 2003 and Cal and Notre Dame games last year) and we are hoping to go 4 for 4. Come join us in Joyce South (look for USC EZ-Up and flags) both before and after the game Click here for Map

  • The Irish are ranked 8th in passing offense, 35th in rushing offense, 9th in total offense and 17th in scoring offense (37pts per game)
  • With Charlie Weiss at the helm, you can count on the Irish being well prepared and running an outstanding scheme
  • The Irish are averaging 3.81 yds/carry vs 6.97 for the Trojans
  • Notre Dame's defensive statistics are not as impressive, #31 in rushing D, #114 in passing D, #94 in total D and #54 in scoring D (24pts/game).
  • The Irish are allowing 4.11 yds/ carry vs 2.89 for the Trojans
  • Notre Dame has done an outstanding job of forcing turnovers in the redzone (even the endzone) particularly against Michigan and Washington
  • The Irish likely have the best OL that USC has faced to date....should be a challenge for the Trojan DL
  • LaJuan Ramsey will return to the line-up for the Trojans this week which should give the defense a boost. It is unlikely that Cushing or Sartz will play....let's all hope that Reggie is close to 100%

  • The Irish will move the ball on the Trojans....USC will focus on keeping the ball in front of them (unlike against UofA) and avoiding long kickoff/punt returns that can flip field position
  • Turnovers will be critical (more so than ever) in the outcome of this game, particularly given the explosive offenses
  • USC has faced 2 high powered passing attacks so far (Oregon and ASU) and faired pretty well. The Irish faced Michigan St (#2 in total offense behind the Trojans, albeit by 75yds!) and gave up 44pts and 488yds in an overtime loss
  • Talk about a tale of 2 cities, the Irish passed for 227yds and 140yds against Pitt (#11 pass defense) and Michigan (#20 pass defense), respectively, but pased for 487, 327 and 468 against Mich St (#106), Washington (#94) and Purdue (#116). Either the Irish are getting better with time or they encountered some weak resistance against the pass....we will find out Saturday!

Look forward to seeing everyone in Chicago and South Bend...let's hope the Trojans can grind out another tough win on the road.

Fight On!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Home Sweet Home!

The Trojans pulled out another hard fought comeback victory on the road. It is never easy to beat good teams on the road and that is what USC has done the last 2 weeks. The Trojans have a huge target on their back and the road games will not get any easier. Everywhere USC goes on the road, it is the biggest game since (fill in the blank). ASU fans said it was the biggest game since Nebraska 1996, Irish fans are proclaiming this the biggest game since Florida State 1993...so on and so forth. The Trojans are happy to be home for 1 brief game before heading out on the road again for 2 more road games.

Please email Tim if you are planning on attending the tailgate this week.

Notes & Tidbits from ASU Game

  • One thing that does not change from game to game is that the Trojans play with heart!
  • The Trojans have been highly penalized in 3 of the first 4 games...something we have never seen in the Pete Carroll era
  • There is so much talk about the offense, but the defense has played outstanding the last two weeks
  • The Trojan D held ASU 200yds and 19pts below their season average (and held ASU to 150yds less than LSU did)
  • ASU QB Sam Keller had thrown only 2 interceptions in 4 games, but threw 5 interceptions against the Trojan D. Leave it to Pete Carroll to confuse a young QB
  • Oscar Lua has really developed into an outstanding MLB and looks like he has regained some of the speed he had prior to 2 (yes 2!) ACL surgeries....Lua is quite a bit heavier than Taputu and made a great play to stuff the run on 4th and 1
  • Speaking of improvements, how about John Walker! (Dan Cherrie and Marcus Wooler have to eat some serious crow) Walker had 2 interceptions and made a great play to break up a pass to the ASU tight end on third and short
  • Justin Wyatt had a battle with talented ASU wideout Derek Hagan. Hagan had 160yds receiving, but Wyatt made a critical interception to get the Trojans the ball just one play after fumbling it away
  • After 4 games, this is starting to look like a Pete Carroll defense. The Trojans are holding opponents under 100yds rushing, putting pressure on the quarterback (4 sacks this week and 5 sacks last week) and forcing turnovers.
  • Injuries on defense are a huge concern and talented true freshman Kevin Ellison is likely done for the season with a torn ACL. Lets hope that Sedrick Ellis (hip) and LaJuan Ramsey (ankle) can get well in a hurry
  • Looks like Kevin Thomas and Will Harris (both true frosh corners) will be healthy for ND
  • There has been a lot of criticism about the offense this week, particularly the play calling. Well, the Trojans ran Bush & White 16 times for 88yds in the first half and 20 times for 267yds in the second half. Not much difference in the number of runs, but a huge difference in the execution

  • By the way, Leinart called the audible into that bootleg run on 3rd down
  • I can't remember the last time USC ran for 373 yards. Bush and White both go over 100yds for the second consecutive game
  • The offensive line is simply dominant right now....just knocking people off the ball and giving Leinart good protection. I have said since before the season started that this may be the best USC offensive line in 25 years
  • The late hit on Leinart was a blatant cheap shot intended to knock him out of the game/season...complete bush league and unacceptable

Arizona Wildcats coming to the Coliseum

  • The Wildcats come to the Coliseum at 1-3 with their only win against 1-AA Northern Arizona
  • Don't take the Wildcats lightly as a 2-2 UofA team came to the Coliseum in 1981 and beat the #1 ranked Trojans despite over 200yds from Marcus Allen
  • Expect a crowd of 90,000....USC is on track to break the school's (and the conference's) attendance record for the second consecutive year
  • The Cats play hard (particularly on defense), but are ranked 105th nationally in rushing offense and 103rd in rushing defense
  • UofA also ranked 111th in turnover margin
  • Mike Bell is a solid running back, but the Wildcat OL is below average. Bell may get some nice runs, but he will also be stuffed for no gain several times. I also expect the USC DE's to put substantial pressure on the QB
  • UofA has some playmakers at WR in Jefferson and Steptoe....Steptoe is also a very accomplished kick returner and had an 80yd return called back by penalty last week against Cal
  • Brad Wood is a threat at TE...I expect to see him catching balls in the middle of the field against the USC 2-Deep zone
  • Arizona has an outstanding kicking game, with the leading punter in the nation and an great FG kicker in Nick Folk
  • USC #3 nationally in rushing offense, #1 in yard per carry by a wide margin
  • USC #1 in total offense and #2 in scoring offense
  • Patrick Turner and Dwayne Jarrett will split time this week....a big opportunity for the freshman
  • I think we will see USC run some play action early, as the Cats will no doubt be expecting the run
  • Maybe this is the week Dom Byrd and Brandon Hancock get involved in the offense or maybe the staff is holding this back for ND

Let's hope some good 'ol Coliseum home cooking can get the Trojans on track for another victroy. See you Saturday morning.

Fight On!