Friday, October 26, 2007

Tough Loss in Eugene, Here come the Beavs

Tough and frustrating loss last week to the Ducks. Congrats to the Ducks for a great win. Penalties and turnovers continue to really hurt the Trojans. There is an old saying that I think holds true for USC football "you are never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you loose"

If you think back to 2003-2005 when USC was rolling, the Trojans were only a couple of key plays away from losing some games (2004 Stanford, 2004 Oregon St, 2005 ASU, 2005 ND) and only a few plays away from going 52-0 from 2003-2006. Well, in 2006 and 2007 those plays have not been going the Trojans' way and the Oregon game is a perfect example. If one were to change 2-3 plays in that game (convert 4th and 1, hold on McKnight TD and Havili fumble), SC could have won that game and been back in the national title hunt. I guess what I am saying is that the line between winning and losing is very thin and the Trojans are making enough mistakes to make it even thinner. I think the coaches and players (and fans) are learning some great lessons about what it takes to stay on is not easy.

Rather than dwell on "shoulda, coulda, woulda" and the negatives in the Oregon game, I would like to highlight a few positives that stood out

  1. The Trojan WRs played an outstanding game...their best game of the year by far. Turner appears to be finally healthy from his injury and showed he can be an impact player. For the second week in a row Vidal really stepped up. If USC continues to get good WR play, then the Trojan offense may begin to be dangerous again

  2. McKnight proved again he is a big time play maker. When given enough opportunities, Joe seems to make at least one big play. This is something the struggling USC offense desperately needs. Joe is poised for huge finish to the season

  3. The USC defense played outstanding against arguably the best offense in CFB. If you would have told me before the game that Oregon would score 24 points and gain 340 yards, I would have been quite confident SC would win the game. While the lack of turnovers forced is puzzling (and frustrating), the Trojan defense continues to shut teams down. With defense like this, USC gives itself an opportunity to win every matter who they play

  4. Sedrick Ellis is just a dominant force. The fact that officials do not call holding on almost every play is a joke. I encourage you to go back and watch games this year on your Tivo/DVR and just focus on #49 and see what he does. Totally off topic, but did you know that for 4 YEARS IN A ROW, USC opponents have been the LEAST PENALIZED team in the PAC 10. Hard to believe, but when you watch Sed Ellis get held, I can start to understand

On to the Beavers....

USC Offense vs OSU Defense

  • This is the key match up in this game. The Beavers come to the Coliseum with a highly touted defense, including the NATION'S LEADING RUSH DEFENSE...can the struggling Trojan offense have a break out week?

  • When you really analyze the rush defense of the Beavers, it becomes clear that the reason they rank #1 is because of lost yards on sacks, not because of actually stopping the ball carrier

  • With credit to TrojanHoya who did the work for this analysis, when you back out the sacks, ball carriers are averaging about 3.5yds per carry against the Beavers. This is is still stout run defense, but not quite the stiffling defense the numbers suggest

  • I suspect the Trojans will test this run defense, particularly between the tackles and see if they can do some damage. I also think USC will use a bit more misdirection with motion and formations (see Nebraska) to use the Beavers speed against themselves

  • The Beavers will definitely bracket cover Fred Davis in an attempt to take him out of the gameplan

  • The Beavers will leave the safeties in the middle of the field and force corners to cover one on one on the sidelines. This plays to the weakness of USC and should be a great test for the players and coaches. In order to be successful offensively in this game, USC will need to have success throwing the intermediate route to the WR, particularly on the sidelines

  • Oregon St rushes the passer extremely well. Avoiding sacks will be critical for the Trojans. Look for some designed roll outs for Booty in his first game back in 4 weeks

  • This Oregon St defense reminds me a lot of UCLA's defense last year...we all know how that turned out. Great opportunity for SC to show everyone they can defeat that type of scheme

  • Sounds like Stafon is much healthier this week....I hope so

USC Defense vs OSU Offense

  • The Beavs have improved significantly throughout the season offensively, primarily as a result of better QB play resulting in less turnovers.

  • OSU has had games of 7, 6 and 5 turnovers (all losses), but has only turned the ball over 3 times in the last 3 games (all wins)

  • The Beavs rely heavily on their running game. 3yr starter Yvenson Bernard is questionable for the game, but then again he missed the game last year when OSU upset the Trojans in Corvallis

  • I think the Trojans will control the run game and will look to apply more pressure than normal to the young OSU QB in order to force turnovers

  • The OSU receivers are solid, but star WR Sammy Stroughter is out for the year. I think the Trojans will play less soft zone tomorrow than any time this year and force the Beavs to win with the passing game

This is unfamiliar territory for the Trojans with 2 losses before November. The offense is struggling and mistakes have really hurt this team. USC HAS A TON TO PLAY FOR, including a share of the Pac 10 title and a potential BCS bowl berth. Huge game tomorrow and a chance to set the tone for a big finish to the season. Hope to see you at the Coliseum tomorrow.

Fight On!


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