Monday, October 30, 2006

Frustrating in so many ways

Turnovers: First and foremost, -4 in the turnover battle?! WTF?!! I have no idea when the last time that happened was. It turns out the last time USC committed four turnovers was the last time they lost a regular season game, in 2003 vs. Cal (Cal also had four turnovers in that game). The Trojans absolutely need to fix this problem if they want to win out.

Play-calling: Where’s the offensive creativity? Where’s the urgency? Sarkiffian finally opened it up when they were down 23 with less than 20:00 remaining, and lo and behold, the Trojans almost pulled off the comeback. Is there some reason why they can’t or shouldn’t make those plays starting in the first quarter? What's with the decision to go for a TD on 4th and goal from the 10 instead of kicking the field goal? I don't even want to get started on the call on the final two-point conversion attempt.

Soft pass coverage: If there was one aspect of the Trojans’ play that looked especially lackadaisical, it had to be their zone pass coverage. The Beavers weren’t gaining many yards after the catch, but they didn’t need to, consistently hitting receivers for 15 to 20 yards per catch. It would have been nice to see more tight one-on-one coverage, giving Trojan defenders more chances to break up passes or even, god forbid, intercept a pass or two.

Slow starts: This is a well-established pattern for 2006 that I hoped would be broken last Saturday. Following slow starts in all but the ASU game, the Trojans didn't seem to wake up until late in the third quarter. Even I didn't sleep in that late on Saturdays when I was at USC.

OK - rant over.

It will be interesting to see how the Trojans respond to their first regular-season loss in over three years. Will this be a learning experience from which they bounce back stronger, or will they self-destruct and begin a painful slide to a second-tier bowl game?

No comments: