Trojan fans, I have words for what just transpired in El Paso, but they are not polite. So let’s lead off with a few stats and facts.
- With its loss in the Sun Bowl, USC is 1st AP preseason No. 1 to finish the season with 6 losses.
- Lane Kiffin was paid $2.4 million to deliver a 7-6 team that looked worse with each game played.
- Quarterback Max Wittek, in his second start, was 14-for-37 for a whopping 107 yards, one TD and three INTs.
- Georgia Tech had to petition the NCAA for a waiver just to be eligible to play a bowl game with their 6-7 record.
- WR Marqise Lee had six receptions for a mere 41 yards
- RB Silas Redd had 88 yards on 17 carries.
- WR Robert Woods, in his final game wearing Cardinal and Gold, had just three receptions for 33 yards.
- The combined record of the seven teams USC beat this year is 35-52.
USC was not the least bit prepared for this game. It was almost as if the Trojans didn’t practice at all for the last six weeks.
Wittek surely didn’t look prepared. He couldn’t even read the Tampa 2 defense the Yellow Jackets run, throwing an interception right into the hands of the linebacker coming up the middle after misreading the defense.
Do I need to remind anyone who invented the Tampa 2 and what defense USC has been running for the last few seasons? That was an unbelievable mistake by a player who showed he is not ready for the USC starting job. Cody Kessler and Max Browne should give Wittek a run for his money in spring football.
The simple fact of the matter is that USC didn’t even show up for this game. From head coach Lane Kiffin all the way down to the backup players, it was evident from the quality of play that USC wasn’t motivated to play in the “lowly” Sun Bowl.
And it showed in the game’s results.
Unfortunately, this program appears to be stuck with Lane Kiffin for at least one more year and the problems at USC start with him.
He is an exceptional recruiter and has a good graduation rate.
That said, under his tutelage, his players and team have regressed. He doesn’t know how to create an effective game plan or how to make adjustments during a game. When it is apparent that your quarterback is not having a good day and you continue to call plays that will likely (and ultimately do) result in interceptions—well that’s on you, Coach.
How can USC be expected to play inspired ball when the attitude coming down from the top is less than inspiring? These are, after all, just college kids; not mature adults. They need a leader, a teacher, a coach who can help them develop as players.
Kiffin had two of the best receivers in college football in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. But that doesn’t do you much good when your quarterback cannot get them the ball. Nor does it help when a sub-par .500 ACC team who lost to Middle Tennessee State University suddenly looks like it possesses an NFL-caliber defense because your offense is so anemic.
This loss lies on Lane Kiffin’s shoulders.
He is the adult, the coach and, most importantly, the one responsible for preparing this Trojan team, for getting them excited about a lower-tier bowl game and making the calls and substitutions that would give USC a chance of winning.
At no point on New Years’ Eve day did USC have a chance of winning. When the bad attitude starts at the top, how can we expect the players to reflect anything else?
With Lane Kiffin at the helm, it is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better.