Wednesday, October 11, 2006

2006 So Far

The good news is we’re 5 and 0. The bad news is . . . well, I’m not terribly comfortable with the manner in which we got to 5-0.

I felt really good after the Arkansas game. After a slow start, the Trojans took control of the game in the second half and won a decisive victory. The slow start could be chalked up to it being the first game of the season. Now, it just looks like Arkansas hadn’t yet realized their potential.

The defense looked great in the Nebraska game. However, based on more recent indicators, that appears to have been a result of Nebraska’s conservative offensive play-calling rather than inspired defensive play.

The final score of the Arizona game looked decisive, but Arizona’s offense is the worst in the conference, it was close until the fourth quarter, and the Trojans needed Arizona to shoot itself in the foot in order to reach the 20-point plateau.

The close, down-to-the-wire victory in Pullman could be attributed to narrowly escaping a widely-predicted trap game played in a remote hostile environment, but the same script played out one week later, at home, against the other Washington school that won only three games in the previous two seasons.

Where are all the big defensive plays? After +5 turnovers in the season-opening Arkansas game, USC is -1 over the following four games and has lost the turnover battle in the last two games (when was the last time that happened?!). USC has only 7 sacks on the season (5 in the Arizona game) with zero in the last two games.

The Trojans are doing enough to win games and are still undefeated, so I’m not complaining. With luck, the team will settle into a dominating style of play we have come to expect from Pete Carroll-coached Trojan teams. Perhaps they will continue to do just enough to win the rest of their games and remain in contention for a national title throughout the season. More likely, if their play does not begin an upward trend soon, they’ll drop a game or two in the second half of the season, especially with a challenging sequence of Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame in November.

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