USC-Oregon State: No Excuses, Trojans—Beavers Ran on You Fair and Square
First off, I want to state that I am a huge USC fan and have been my entire life. Having said that, USC got what they deserved last night in Corvallis. USC couldn't run the ball, and Oregon State could. Oregon State did not have many drive-killing penalties—USC did. Field position was certainly not USC's friend last night either.
USC knew it was not their night when the Beavers punter had his punt partially blocked in the fourth quarter, and the ball still rolled to within the Trojans' five-yard line.
USC knew it wasn't their night when the Beavers' quarterback made a dangerous throw to the corner of the end zone and the Trojans' cornerback had a sure interception go right off his hands and straight into the air, where a Beavers' receiver made a great catch for the touchdown.
USC knew it wasn't their night when their two best defensive players left the game with injuries—linebacker Rey Maualuga and free safety Taylor Mays.
Lastly, USC was beaten by a team who ironically played Trojan-style football: Run the ball, play sound defense, force turnovers, and once the run is established, pass down the middle of the field.
Having been a longtime fan of the Trojans, I knew we were in trouble from the get-go. When Oregon State kicked off to begin the game and USC's returner C.J. Gable couldn't get the ball past the 15, I knew USC was playing a team who wanted it more.
Oregon State played like a team looking for respect, looking for someone to say, "Those Beavers aren't too bad of a team after all."
If I could put a percentage on the amount of blame USC coaches should take compared to that of the players for the loss, I would say it goes like this: 90 percent coaches, 10 percent players.
Pete Carroll is a GREAT coach, great recruiter, and a great human being who does a lot for the community. However, last night he was out-coached and out-schemed by Mike Riley and the Oregon State staff. I was watching last night's game wondering if USC's staff had even watched film on the Beavers' play this year.
How could that running back run for 186 yards against USC's defense if they were prepared for him, as the USC coaches say they were? USC HARDLY EVER lets a running back beat them—even good running teams have historically struggled against USC's defense.
As I watched the game unfold in the second quarter, I couldn't help but hear the ESPN announcers, specifically Jesse Palmer, say that Oregon State was mixing their offense up to perfection.
Really? Come on, Palmer.
Anyone who watched the game saw exactly what I saw: The Beavers ran right up the middle, right at the heart of the defense, and right into the end zone.
Next, who was calling USC's plays last night? A JV coach? USC has been and will always be defined by how they run the ball.
They are arguably the best zone blockers in CFB, but last night the offensive line showed exactly what they are: young, inexperienced, and not as good as past USC offensive lines (so far). Mark Sanchez couldn't even stand in the pocket for three seconds last night before having to move out of the pocket to make an off-balance throw.
But back to the play calling...USC finally started to run the ball effectively in the second half when they gave Stafon Johnson the ball more often. Yet right after a 14-yard run for a first down from Johnson, Sark (off. coordinator) went right back to the air as he called pass plays for the next two downs.
After two incompletions, it was 3rd-and-10, and USC was desperate. What's the play call in a desperate situation? A five-yard slant, of course.
Lastly, Joe McKnight is a great football player and will be one of the top players for the next couple of seasons. He should become an NFL player similar to Reggie Bush.
However, when he is struggling as badly as he did last night, the coaching staff needs to give other players the ball. He had two fumbles and made many bad choices when he actually held on to the ball.
Where is C.J. Gable? Where is Stafon Johnson? Where is Broderick Green (running, not receiving)? Where is Stanley Havili? Where is Marc Tyler? USC goes 5-6 deep in running backs, and last night they used two—one effectively.
I know exactly why they kept putting McKnight in though—the home run ball. USC puts so much stock into his ability to break a tackle and take one to the house that they will gladly overlook a player who is running effectively like Johnson was.
Stafon Johnson is USC's best pure running back, yet he was hardly used when they most needed to move the ball. I wonder if Sark was watching the same game I was because his play calling ability last night was atrocious.
Now while USC did not deserve to win this game, they did prove in the second half that when they are awake and the coaches actually make adjustments, they are a great team.
What really drives me mad, though, is how Ohio State fans and Big Ten fans are now blasting the Trojans for this loss when just two weeks ago they lost to this same USC team, 35-3. What drives me most mad, though, is the SEC fans claiming they have been right all along—USC is overrated and have been forever.
Really? I would like those people to look at USC's record versus the SEC and their record out of conference, including bowl games. The fact is this: The only teams who really ever beat USC in the Pete Carroll era are teams from the Pac-10.
Why would this be though? The same exact reason why SEC and Big 12 teams lose more inside their conference: familiarity. This Oregon State coaching staff has seen this USC team, zone blocking offense, and traditionally run defense every year, and each year they figure out something else.
Although this was a big upset in the context of the ranking system, being a USC fan I was never too confident versus Oregon State. The Pac-10 plays USC better because they know them better and have more to prove when they play USC.
Carroll needs to emphasize the importance of respect. USC needs to stop paying attention to the media and earn their accolades and respect on the field.
I think USC will turn this season around as long as the injuries their players suffered are not season-threatening, but it will not be easy. From now on USC is playing for more than just wins: They are playing for respect and for themselves.
The coaches deserve 90 percent of the blame for last night's game, but the 10 percent of the blame that is on the players cannot be fixed by coaching adjustments or screaming. It can only be fixed by playing with heart and the will to win.
Oregon State beat USC fair and square and deserved to win the game last night without a doubt. The only real reason I feel a little bad for USC is this: Even if they won last night 50-0, SEC folks, Big 12 folks and even some ACC folks would just claim Oregon State was bad and USC is still overrated.
USC seems to always be in a lose-lose situation, and last night's result unfortunately won't help.
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