Pac-10 Week 3 Notes and Observations: USC Trojans
USC Trojans 2-1 Overall (0-1 Conference)
This Week’s Score: Washington 16 – USC 13
Next Week’s Opponent: Washington State
This is becoming an all too familiar script for Trojans fans. With Saturday’s painful loss to Washington, USC has now lost to an unranked Pac-10 team in four consecutive seasons. Certainly there will be a lot of finger pointing after this one. Some folks will blame the play calling of offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. Some will blame the mounting injuries that have kept key starters out of action. Some may even blame Pete Carroll (Pete Carroll seems to blame Pete Carroll). In the end it doesn’t matter why the Trojans lost in Seattle, because frankly, this is USC and the expectation is to utilize superior talent and depth to defeat all comers.
While plenty of things need to be corrected in a hurry, I don’t believe the defense is one of them. In fact, the Trojan D has far exceeded my expectations to this point in the 2009 season. Sure Taylor Mays makes a difference in the secondary, but the Trojans still played pretty well against Washington. Holding a potent Huskies offense to 16 points and less than 300 total yards really isn’t bad at all, especially if you consider the fact that U-Dub put up about 500 yards of offense against a good LSU D.
The final drive of Saturday’s game was simply Jake Locker and the UW receivers making some fantastic plays. I think it’s important to remember the sheer amount of playmakers that were lost from last season’s record-breaking Trojan defense. Not to mention the departure of Nick Holt (who proved just how good he is Saturday). I believe the emergence of new defensive playmakers like Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan should not be overlooked despite the disappointment being felt by ‘SC fans after a frustrating loss.
Obviously the thing on everyone’s mind right now is the quarterback position. Frankly, there is no way to positively describe Aaron Corp’s performance (13/22 110 yards, 1 INT). I just can’t figure out why Mitch Mustain did not get a look in the game. Mustain may be struggling with the system, but would he have performed any worse? I do believe one positive came out of Saturday’s rough outing from Corp. At least now we know that this is Matt Barkley’s team, and the quarterback controversy that defined most of the pre-season is no more.
My last thought involves the electrifying and terrifying Joe McKnight. No one can deny that he is a true game-changer, but lately, he has changed the game in the wrong way. McKnight’s ball security issues are becoming too costly, and it may be just a matter of time before he sees his touches reduced as a result. Personally, I hope he finds a way to hold onto the ball because he is such an exciting player to watch and I would hate to see the fumbling stigma continue to haunt him.
‘SC has a lot of work to do from here, but a home game against Washington State maybe just what the doctor ordered.