From the hallowed confines of Heritage Hall, the Kool-Aid flowed like government bailout funds just a couple of weeks ago.
We heard how USC had the best offensive line in the country and possibly the greatest in Trojan history. This year’s defensive front seven were even faster and more mobile than last year’s heavy-hitters, all drafted by the NFL.
We heard about this fabulous true freshman quarterback, the second coming of John Elway. Media reports noted that the kid beat out the two upperclassmen ahead of him, both of whom would start for most other Division One teams.
We were told that the Trojan secondary was a fearsome band of ball hawks and tacklers. Like the quarterback spot, they were as deep as the Mississippi River.
However, I can’t think of any Division One team that would start the Aaron Corp that I saw on the field Saturday. And the Trojan secondary looked like they were knee-deep in Mississippi mud on the Huskies final winning drive.
So, now that the Trojans have blown their top three rating and any chance for a national title with their loss to the Huskies last Saturday, Heritage Hall has shut off the Kool-aid spout. Instead, a press aide picked through the media files and dusted off the old memo from last year and the year before that and the year before that.
It goes something like this:
We are putting the past behind us. Last week is finished. There’s nothing anyone can do about what’s past. We are focused on today. That’s all anyone can work on, the present, as we prepare for our next opponent (fill in the blank).
This year that next opponent is Washington State, and I see absolutely no reason to do a preview of a game that, beyond USC, has no national or even Pac-10 implications unless, of course, the Trojans lose again.
The Trojans could hang 70 points on WSU, Barkley or Corp could throw seven TD passes, Joe McKnight could run for over 200 yards and no one outside of USC and the Trojan fan base would care.
So, Heritage Hall may be finished with the Week That Was. But this is Bleacher Report, where the only thing we put behind us is the seat of our pants. Something which we occasionally land on rather forcefully.
That said, it is time to hear from you, Trojan fans - and haters alike. Let’s hear your thoughts on the Week That Was and the Game That Was.
Browsing through the Trojan fan sites, many of the staunch supporters have been critical of other fans who have dared to criticize Pete Carroll and the way the Trojans always seem to lose a key game to an unranked opponent.
While I disagree with Colin Cowherd’s comments on ESPN Radio that Pete Carroll’s amazing string of successful seasons puts him above criticism, I am neither here to bury Pete nor praise him and the Trojans.
I leave that up to you, O noble ones!
Let me put some topics on the table that fans and commentators have mentioned this week, and you can fire away. State whatever you like. I will not criticize your opinions. I only ask that you identify your affiliation: Trojan fan, Bruin fan, Gator fan, Big Ten fan, etc., for all of us to know where you’re coming from.
All during the week prior to the Washington game, Pete Carroll refused to name a starting quarterback until just before game time. Sound familiar? Do the names Jim Tressel and Beanie Wells ring a bell? How about 35-3?
Do you remember how Tressel was either praised or criticized for his gamesmanship depending on a fan’s affiliation? What about Pete Carroll? Was this a case of gamesmanship or desperately hoping for Matt Barkley to return?
Do you think that not gaining the full confidence of his coach earlier in the week had any affect on Aaron Corp’s performance or should he have been ready to play regardless?
Aaron Corp said he was ready to go two weeks ago. Pete Carroll last week said that Corp had a good week of practice and was finally healthy. But after the loss and Corp’s terrible performance, Carroll said this:
"I don't think (Corp’s) all the way back yet. I don't think his arm strength is there. I don't think he's using his whole body. He's been playing with a broken leg for five weeks now. He's compensated in a way that he's not at his best yet."
Carroll talking about Corp’s performance also said, "He struggled with anything down field. We were very fortunate that we didn't throw three or four more picks. There were three or four more there."
Hmm? You see that your quarterback is struggling and you don’t think his arm strength is there and he’s compensating for a broken leg, then why didn’t you put Mitch Mustain in the game? Or even Garrett Green, who posed as Jake Locker all week for the scout team?
With less than five minutes remaining, USC drives down to the Washington seven-yard line, where it is third-and-six. That’s an obvious passing down. Instead, Stafon Johnson is stopped for no gain, and USC kicks the field goal to tie.
Why weren’t the Trojans passing on third-and-six to take the lead? Concerned about another interception no doubt.
"We weren't getting good results throwing the ball," Carroll said. "So we wanted to see if, in this game, on that day, we could win the game running the football. We couldn't get it going though."
So again, why is Mitch Mustain spending his time practicing punting when you have two unhealthy quarterbacks? Or why couldn’t Garrett Green do his best Jake Locker imitation on the field at Husky Stadium in the second half?
The year was 2006. Washington had the ball at their own 20-yard line with only 1:29 left in the game at the Coliseum. Ty Willingham was the Husky coach; Isaiah Stanback was their quarterback. The Huskies drove all the way down to the USC 34. On second-and-ten, Stanback hit Sonny Shackelford at the USC 15.
The first down stopped the clock with two seconds left. But when the Huskies went to put the ball in play, the officials ruled there was no time left. That controversial call saved the game for the Trojans, 26-20.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, like the Huskies did Saturday on their final drive, shame on me.
Lastly, Steve Sarkisian had been accused of being a conservative offensive coordinator during his tenure at USC. But on Saturday, he proved to be an effective head coach. He said this after the game:
"We said early on that it wasn't going to take us very long," Sarkisian told reporters. "I think maybe some people outside our own little domain thought that that was just press-conference-speak."
What do you think? Was it just press-conference-speak or are the Huskies for real?
College football fan sites often amuse me. Before the season, Trojan fans lamented the fact that based on their strength-of-schedule USC would definitely need to run the table in order to make it to the national title game. Now they are trying to figure out who needs to lose in order for USC to get back into title consideration.
Get over it, folks. Look at the brighter side. The Trojans dumped Big Ten rival, Ohio State, two weeks in a row. They beat them on the field two weeks ago, and last Saturday, USC ruined the Buckeyes strength-of-schedule and Notre Dame’s as well. Fight on!
So, let’s hear from you. It’s Take-A-Shot Wednesday.