I would like to start this week out with a review of the Trojans. The loss to Washington has to be the biggest upset of the year. All the intrigue because of the coaching staff is fun to think about, but what this boils down to is that USC is not playing USC ball right now. You cannot turn the ball over like they did. They left 24 points sitting out there on the turf. It is going to be hard to beat any well coached team like that. Especially when those turnovers are in your opponents territory.
There are a few other things that makes the loss so aggravating and it stems from several larger issues. The play calling seemed to be vanilla once again. It has been this way for such a long time. The loss of Ronald Johnson is painfully obvious. USC cannot spread the field with Williams and Ausberry. The coaches are not confident enough in the other receivers they have that can spread the field. They don't use the size advantage of Ausberry in screens and slants. In fact, they really don't want to throw the ball at all. Which I find very interesting considering they called almost 40 pass plays against Ohio State. Pete should have sucked it up and pulled Corp for Mustain the moment they lose confidence in his arm.
For all the raving about Aaron Corp coming into this game, I didn't see anything that would lead me to believe that he is worthy of the 2nd spot let alone the first. It is plain to see why Pete was so eager to name Barkley the starter. Will he make every pass he throws? No, but sure won't short hop a 15 yard pass to a wide open Anthony McCoy with the game in the balance. No one knows Corp's strengths and weaknesses better than one man. Steve Sarkesian. He was his OC and QB coach for two years at USC. Nick Holt knows that just as well. It was obvious that USC was not going to run him, and they sure didn't show any confidence in throwing the ball. The two coaches on the other side of the field are the two people in the world that could take advantage of everything Pete was going to give. I didn't see Corp throw a decent ball all game. But I did see 4-5 passes that scared the poop out of me.
The killing point in this was the final USC drive. They got into UW territory and were completely one demensional. There was to threat to throw. There was no threat for the QB to run. USC lined up and said stop us if you can. In the last several years every loss but Oregon has been because of this attitude. Stop us if you can.
Why the complete loss of confidence in the talent? I don't know. Pete has a tendency to go extremely conservative and let his talent win the games. A lot of this can be attributed to a couple of things. First, attrition. USC loses lots of players to the draft. A lot of guys leave early. You can probably see why Pete was so angry about Mark leaving early. There was little confidence in the other QB's. USC has lost a lot of coaches. All of this leads to continuity issues. It is amazing to me that they have kept it up this long. You look at Florida and they lost 3 or 4 games 2 years ago including their bowl game. LSU has had some 3-4 loss seasons. Oklahoma is going to do so this year. Would I call this a rebuilding year for USC? Probably not. They truly do reload. I expect USC to roll over their competition when Barkley is behind center. The USC defense is really really good. USC doesn't turn the ball over and they win huge. The defense doesn't get the kind of pressure on it when the O does its job.
In the end there is no excuse to lose to Washington. None. USC was not outplayed, they were out coached. Holt and Sark made adjustments. They put in different personnel to stop the Trojans. Pete kept his cards on the table face down. At some point you just have to throw caution to the wind and let your guys loose.
Other than Sark and Holt I give my game ball to Joe McKnight. The guy was a warrior on Saturday. He turned his ankle, and came back. He got his leg rolled up on, and came back. He fought for every yard he got even after the injuries. In the three years he's been here I was not ready to crown him our guy until this year. He needs to hold onto the ball, but he is playing with a strength he has not shown before.
If USC wants to avoid going to the Holiday Bowl (which is looking very likely) they need to step up the offensive play calling and let it loose.