While watching the Trojans lose control of a football game for the first time in the Pete Carroll era and reflecting on the last 9 quarters of football USC has played, the beginning of Buffalo Springfield’s song “For What It’s Worth” started playing in my head “There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear, there’s a man with a gun over there telling me I have go to beware…”
The Trojan nation will remember where they were Halloween night 2009 for many years to come after watching a true horror movie being played out in Auzten Stadium as Oregon dominated the Trojans 47-20 and literally beat them up as the Trojans suffered quite a few injuries on the defensive side of the ball. For the first time in his SC tenure, Coach Carroll seemed to doubt his own game plan of stopping Oregon’s run offense because of a few early completions to the Oregon slot receiver early and chaos ensued.
Oregon proved they are one of the best teams in the country and Head Coach Chip Kelly has done a masterful job of getting his team to rebound from an early loss against Boise State.
It is easy to beat up on the Trojans right now and quite frankly some of it is deserved. However, if they can pull it together they still have an easy shot at another top 10 season, a potential BCS at-large bow bid and the chance to carry quite a bit of momentum into next season with a very young team. Even faint hope remains for the Rose Bowl.
We will learn a lot about the Trojans from the coaching staff down in terms of how they rebound from this type of loss over the next few weeks. The invincibility factor of the SC jersey is no longer going to give them a mental edge in 2009.
After the jump is a quick analysis of the keys to the game from Friday’s Skinny and an injury report
*Avoid penalties and turnovers: The Trojans actually played a clean game from this perspective. I have strongly felt that due to USC’s supposed talent advantage based on recruiting rankings and the dominant defensive play early on the Trojans would win every game they played in as long as they didn’t beat themselves with turnovers and undisciplined play. The Ducks proved that theory wrong and dominated the Trojans in every phase of the game.
*USC’s Defensive Line vs. Oregon’s Offensive Line: No contest. The vaunted Trojan defensive line was knocked off the ball by Oregon. The Trojans did get some penetration but were unable to contain Oregon for the losses that were needed to turn them into more of a passing team. Part of the problem goes back to the Trojans looking like they abandoned the game plan of stopping Oregon’s run offense early when Oregon had success passing to the slot receiver.
*Force Oregon into obvious passing situations: The forced Oregon into 1 long passing situation to start the game and Masoli was off the mark on both throws. After that, Oregon rushed for over 350 yards and did anything they wanted averaging over 8 yards a play. Masoli was a master at reading the Trojan defense and just like in years past, USC still has trouble defending a scrambling quarterback.
Surprisingly, the Trojans abandoned its base run defense once Oregon adjusted to it with a pass to the slot receiver. USC didn’t counter that and roll up into a cover 0 defense and man up on receivers and force Masoli to throw by having 8 in the box at all times. Coach Carroll is conservative with his safeties and hates leaving the defensive backfield so exposed but it was clear the Trojans needed to do something to throw a monkey wrench into Oregon’s offense.
*Trojans will attack Oregon’s young secondary: One of the only bright spots for the Trojans was that Matt Barkley played a pretty good game. The Trojans were able to move the ball and make things happen in the first half. However, Oregon made solid adjustments in the second half and Freshman Safety John Boyett played a great game.
*Don’t forget about the Tight End– The Trojans went to Blake Ayles early. In fact, he broke open on a seam route which could have been a touchdown and dropped another pass that could have been a touchdown. The Trojans clearly missed Anthony McCoy and Blake Ayles needs to start making plays if he expects to be the Trojans starting tight end next year.
*Linebacker Malcolm Smith has a significant shoulder injury and is out for an indefinite period of time.
*Linebackers Chris Galippo and Jarvis Jones will undergo MRI’s today on their sprained necks.
*Defensive End Armond Armstead cracked his wrist and it needs to be determined if he can play with a cast.
*Defensive End Everson Griffen has turf toe which could keep him out a couple of weeks.