College football has finally arrived, and there are few people who were more ecstatic to see the USC Trojans rush the field Thursday night than me. Despite all the negativity with sanctions, suspensions, etc, first year Head Coach Lane Kiffin's debut went great.
His sophomore quarterback in Matt Barkley had an amazing night, completing 18 of 23 passes for 257 yards and five TDs. Wide receiver Ronald Johnson had an amazing night too, catching seven passes from Barkley for 59 yards and three touchdowns.
The Trojans' offense was like a machine, churning out 524 yards of total yards, picking up 25 first downs, and converting nine of 12 third downs.
Here's another number: 588.
The USC defense gave up 588 yards of total offense to the Warriors, who led the Trojans in almost every category.
Kiffin's defense gave up 459 yards through the air as the young secondary was tested all night long. In fact, the Trojans' defense was so bad, that even after starting Warriors quarterback Bryant Moniz was bludgeoned by a forearm to the head, even the Warriors' third string quarterback Shane Austin still made life difficult for USC.
This is how bad the USC defense was against Hawaii: Austin was a third string quarterback, yet he still managed to throw two consecutive touchdown passes of 65 and 30 yards respectively, in the fourth quarter. Perhaps that puts things in perspective.
Now, who knows, maybe Austin was a tremendous quarterback, who accidentally got the wrong spot on the Hawaii depth chart, or maybe the Trojans' defense was just really that bad.
If I had to decide, I would choose the latter.
As I'm sure many of you watched the game, you most definitely noticed that the USC defense looked like a bunch of pee-wee players who just learned to tackle a week ago. The defense couldn't tackle anybody; it was disgusting.
Now, I know the defense is young, and a lot of the players are now gone, but come on, Monte. You designed the Tamp 2 defense, yet the defense that you're in charge of couldn't prevent a third string quarterback from throwing 95 yards in under three minutes?
It was truly a shock to see a USC defense actually get pushed around on the field, when USC defenses are normally the ones at top of the national defensive rankings.
Hey, who knows, maybe Monte Kiffin designed a killer defense and had an excellent strategy, but the players didn't absorb any of it amidst the jitters from the first game, the sanctions, or just pure lack of experience.
Whatever the case is, the defensive genius that is Monte Kiffin, the man who helped lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl and the man who designed the Tampa 2 defense needs to get his stuff together, and fast.
The conference schedule for USC will be here faster than you can say "sanction," which just so happens to be in three weeks, when the Trojans take on the Washington St. Cougars. The Cougars more than likely won't put up much of a fight, but you never know.
But what we do know is that Monte Kiffin better get this defensive fiasco straightened out soon, because the Trojans will play California, Arizona State, Arizona, Stanford, Oregon, and Oregon St.
I am 100 percent confident that if the defensive woes aren't fixed, all of the teams mentioned above will beat USC, or come darn close.
The offense looked great Thursday night against Hawaii. RB Marc Tyler had 154 rushing yards, and just imagine how explosive the offense will be when USC gets freshman phenom Dillon Baxter back...
However, despite all of the offensive successes from Thursday night, the defensive short comings will overshadow them, and it will probably mean another 5-4 season in the Pac-10 for USC if something isn't fixed now.
Luckily, the Trojans have a fairly easy game coming up in Virginia, and then a potential hazard when they take on Minnesota. After that, it's back to the grind of an increasingly difficult conference.
With any luck, there won't be a repeat of last season and the Men of Troy will return to their place atop the Pac-10 mountain.
Until then, Monte Kiffin has to plug the leak before it turns into a flood.
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