USC Trojans Football: 10 Things We Learned from Loss to Stanford Cardinal
Well, it appears that the Trojans "unfinished business," at least against Stanford, will remain unfinished.
After getting thoroughly outplayed against a team many thought they would breeze through, USC will now return to the drawing board to see if they can salvage the 2012 season.
It won't be easy.
So many facets of the Trojans game were exposed that it will be difficult for Lane Kiffin and his staff to right what now appears to be a sinking ship.
From defensive lapses to a completely inept offensive display, USC probably could not have played a worse game when the spotlight was the brightest.
This slide show will look at ten things Trojan fans learned about their team tonight, none of them of the variety that they will enjoy.
So hold your nose as we ponder a myriad of failures from the men of Troy.
No. 10: The Trojans Really Missed Khaled Holmes
On a night when the USC offense seemed out of whack all game long, a large portion of the blame must go to the offensive line which was missing their heart and soul, center Khaled Holmes.
But it goes further than just the loss of Holmes who was replaced by redshirt freshman Cyrus Hobbi.
All along the line the Trojans were simply manhandled by the Cardinal whose front seven made them look bad in both the running and pass blocking portion of the game.
With a pathetic 26 yards rushing for the game (26 yards!), its run-blocking futility was matched only by the O-line's ineptitude trying to protect quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth quarter.
To say this unit has issues would be a gross understatement.
No. 9: The Trojans Tailbacks Didn't Help Matters Either
Granted, there weren't many holes for Silas Redd, Curtis McNeal and others to run through, but, when there was, USC's tailbacks seemed a step slow, didn't they?
After rushing for 54 yards on 20 attempts, the Trojans tailbacks were the model of inefficiency throughout the game.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal's Stepfan Taylor went for 156 yards just to show the Trojans and their faithful fans what a good team's rushing game should look like.
No. 8: Someone Besides Morgan Breslin Needs to Pressure the QB
The Trojans defensive line was its greatest source of concern going into the 2012 season.
And while USC now has plenty more to worry about besides Ed Orgeron's unit, the D-line did little to acquit themselves of the worry with which they started the season.
After giving up 417 total yards, including 215 in the air, the one thing that seemed missing all night was pressure on Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes.
Other than defensive end Morgan Breslin, who had a nice game, the Trojan defensive line seemed absent from the Cardinal backfield all night long.
This gave Nunes plenty of time to dissect the Trojan secondary which the Cardinal QB was all to happy to do.
No. 7: USC Was Far Too Generous with Turnovers Tonight
On a night when the Trojan offense couldn't get out of its own way, it compounded its woes by giving the Cardinal three turnovers, two on interceptions by Barkley and one on a Silas Redd fumble.
One of the interceptions by Barkley probably wasn't his fault, but that is beside the point.
With the battle of turnovers being such a large component of this big road game, USC simply couldn't afford to be minus-one in this statistic.
Did the turnovers cost USC this game?
No, but it didn't help.
No. 6: Lane Kiffin Had Better Find Some Confidence in His Kicker
With regular Trojan place kicker Andre Heidari still on the injury shelf, Lane Kiffin found himself going for it on fourth down in some very unusual situations.
Although the box score will show that Kiffin was successful on three of five attempts, one of those misses was on fourth down when a field goal attempt appeared to be within the range of Alex Wood, Heidari's replacement.
Instead, Barkley missed in the end zone to Soma Vainuku and instead of a ten-point lead, the Trojans turned the ball over to the Cardinal and the momentum shifted with it.
Heidari won't be back soon, so Kiffin had better find a solution for his absent kicking game right away, because USC may need those missing three points going forward.
Just like they needed them in this game.
No. 5: How About That Third Down Efficiency?
That ugly statistic reflected the Trojans complete futility on third-down conversion attempts and was, perhaps more than any other, the reason why USC lost this game.
With little production coming when USC needed to extend a series, the Trojans found themselves coming up short time after time.
Look, Stanford has a good defense but whiffing all night long on third down is inexcusable.
No. 4: The Trojans Offense Was Too One-Dimensional
I'm not quite sure what the Trojans could do about it but in this game, but their offense was just too predictable.
After getting nothing on the ground, USC tried to compensate by going to the air. Whatever they tried, they had very little success. Flanker screens, wheel routes...nothing seemed to work.
Going forward, the Trojans vaunted offense had better find ways of becoming a more multi-faceted attack
Or else prepare for more losses.
No. 3: Heisman for Barkley? Not with Any More Games Like This
Along with the Trojans plummeting in the rankings, Matt Barkley's chances for the Heisman trophy will also take a major hit.
With perhaps the worst game of his career—and on national television—Barkley's chances for personal recognition went down the tubes with his team's national reputation.
Of course, it should be noted that Barkley's futility was a result of many things, not the least of which was his offensive line's inability to protect him.
Having said that, it also should be understood that even when he had the time, Barkley often missed on his throws.
And then there is that little matter of the two interceptions.
Barkley could care less about winning Mr. Heisman's stiff-arming little fella. Which is a good thing, because after tonight, he isn't in the conversation.
No. 2: The Better Team Won Tonight
Let's face it, false bravado from the Trojans aside, Stanford has USC's number.
With all of the talk centering on Matt Barkley and the Trojans desire for revenge after three straight years of losses, Stanford simply smiled and went about its business of kicking the Trojans ass.
Consider it mission accomplished for David Shaw and his gritty little team from up north.
It is now time for the Trojans and their fans to simply admit that the better team won tonight and start looking ahead to next year when Stanford will come visiting to the Coliseum.
Of course, after four straight years of being owned by the Cardinal, it may not matter where the game is played.
No. 1: Sadly, It Appears That USC Is Indeed Overrated
Time to come to terms with this Trojan fans, the mighty USC Trojans of 2012 are not what they were cracked up to be.
After getting thrashed in just about every facet of the game, USC was exposed in an abundance of ways—some surprising and others not so much.
The one Trojan's unit that was supposed to produce was the offense, and unfortunately for USC, the misplaced notion that all the Trojans needed to do was to roll out the ball, was just that...misplaced.
In fact, the Trojan defense actually played a fairly solid game against Stanford and if there was a finger to be pointed, it should be directed at Matt Barkley and his "dream offense."
Now the Trojans will have to start over, and it begins next week with Cal, which gave Ohio State all it could handle on the road at the Horseshoe.
If USC plays the same game next week it played tonight, the Trojans will be 2-2.
No doubt about it.