A lot of people thought USC answered all the big questions after going to the air last week to take down the Cougars. There may not be many questions for this Trojan squad to answer at this early stage of the season, but there are some. These are nit-picky considering how embarrassingly good the team is, but still need to be asked …
- Can anybody make the BIG play? Some people have started grumbling that Booty hasn’t hit any deep bombs this year. Truth be told, nobody has busted out with any mind-numbing long play in the first three games. While there have been a few big, exciting gains, nobody has gone more than half the field in one down. The longest run of the year was a 50 yard rumble by Stanley Havili — a fullback. The longest reception of the year was a 35 yard pickup by Fred Davis — a tight end. The longest interception return was 24 yards by Kyle Moore — a defensive end. Those are three positions you wouldn’t expect to making the team’s longest plays, especially considering the speed and talent USC has at their other positions. On special teams, Desmond Reed has a 44 yard punt return and a 14 yard punt return, both team highs. There haven’t been any fumble recoveries run back to date. Will anybody make a Reggie Bush style highlight?
- Can USC turn around turnovers? About a month ago, Art from Trojan Football Analysis taught us about the significance of turnovers. So far, USC hasn’t given him many more data points — and the ones he has aren’t pretty. With just four takeaways (3 interceptions, 1 fumble) to six giveaways (4 interceptions, 2 fumbles), the team is on pace for its first negative turnover margin in the Pete Carroll era. His teams have been legendary thanks to a +1.5 per game margin in his first five years. Last season, his sixth, it was a mere +0.3. This year, it’s an ugly -0.7.
- Will the Trojans survive a game? Without injury, that is. It’s a good thing this team is so deep, because their training room is stocked with more talent than many other teams have in their entire locker rooms. Football is a grinding, physical sport. But how many teams could lose 4 starters in their first three games and barely blink?
- Can Greg Woidneck punt? Does it matter? Nobody can fault this guy for wasting opportunities — he’s barely had any. He didn’t get to take the field against Washington State and is averaging just two kicks per game. With a respectable 41.7 yard average, long of 51, and 33% inside the 20, he may be on pace for a decent season. A few years ago, lack of opportunity made Tom Malone ineligible for NCAA record books — and derailed his faux Heisman Campaign.
- Is USC’s schedule the toughest? People are starting to rethink the SEC hype. Here’s another fact for your next debate with a Southerner: Only five NCAA Division 1-A schools have never scheduled a lower-tier patsy since the divisions were established. Those schools are USC, Washington, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Michigan State.
- Will it rain? OK, maybe there aren’t many questions! The answer to this one is yes. And USC is 20-21-2 all-time on rainy days. Things should even up this weekend.