Pete Carroll's smartest move of his tenure as head coach of the USC Trojans is his hire of Norm Chow as offensive coordinator. USC's offense became explosive and smart, exploiting defenses and spreading the ball to an unbelievable talent pool.
After Chow came Lane Kiffin, who I think was given the reins to the USC offense as a favor to his father by Carroll, who coached with and is very good friends with Monte Kiffin, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Offensive output dropped.
Kiffin left and in stepped Steve Sarkisian, a Norm Chow protege from his years as a BYU quarterback to being Chow's assistant and QB coach at USC. USC's offense exploded again in 2008 under Sark.
Now Sarkisian is at Washington and brought USC's defensive coordinator Nick Holt with him.
In their first game of the year, Washington fought a strong LSU team to the brink, losing by one score. With LSU coming off a strong 2008 and playing the first game of the year, and Washington coming off a winless season, the result was surprising, impressive, and eye-opening.
The Huskies are for real. They have talent, and now they have two of the top coaches in the game.
So, what does that mean for the USC-Washington matchup this week? USC stands to lose this game.
Five reasons why
1) Steve Sarkisian is very aware of what Ohio State did and did not do to USC.
His offense will be more robust than OSU's and will take advantage of USC's defense the way OSU did not.
2) Two words: Jake Locker.
Jake Locker is potentially better than any QB we've seen in recent memory. He threw unbelievably well against LSU, with a few costly mistakes. He also runs better than Terrelle Pryor—something Carroll has recently mentioned in the media. Look for Sark to let Locker go all Vince Young on the Trojans now and then.
3) Nick Holt's defense should be able to work on USC's ultra-conservative offense, especially if Sarkisian can move the ball enough to keep USC in the shadow of their own end zone the way OSU did.
Remember, OSU got a safety off of USC.
4) Matt Barkley is injured.
Holt will come after him and make him screw up, and Holt will key on the run. It will be tough going for USC offensively—there won't be much passing.
5) USC players and coaches mentioned the hostility of the Horseshoe. It rattled them.
Just wait till you get to Seattle, Trojans. During the LSU game, the cameras shook all over the place—the stadium was a-rockin'. Washington is up for this game, believe that.