The Skinny: Trojans Show Improvement

Mike Garrett resurfaces; SC Continues To Improve but is a second tier program; Keys to ASU victory and more!

Despite losing by 21 points to what looks like the eventual national champion, the Trojans continue to improve in important areas.

Trojans continue to show improvement…will it continue?:Despite losing by 21 points to what looks like the eventual national champion, the Trojans continue to improve in important areas. The Trojans are playing much more disciplined then they were at the beginning of the year with only 3 penalties for 22 yards and the tackling is starting to improve. Even though Oregon scored 52 points, the defense caused two turnovers and stopped the Ducks six out of nine times between the second and third quarters. They forced the nation’s #1 offense to punt four times. The defense did enough to give the offense a chance to win the game. The offense just wasn’t ready to take the next step.

The players have responded to Kiffin’s call for more discipline and I give Kiffin credit for adjusting his practices to have more live tackling drills despite a short-handed roster.

The key now is whether they continue to improve. Kiffin and his staff face the very tall order of keeping the young players motivated without a bowl game to fight for. They must motivate players individually and collectively about the importance of finishing strong. Young players have to feel this is a chance to solidify a starting spot next year and draft eligible players have to feel that a strong finish will help out there NFL prospects.

The Pac-10 is very deep this year and if they are not focused, they could easily finish 2-3 the rest of the way and create an even deeper hole heading into next year with scholarship reductions looming.

Despite improvement, the Trojans are a second tier program for now: It was really hard to write the intro to this paragraph but even the most devout Trojan followers have to agree that the torch has been passed for the next few years. The Trojans fought hard but Oregon was clearly the better team. With future scholarship limitations and the expansion of the Pac-10, USC fans will need to be patient until they are able to get to a level playing field which will probably take at least four to six years.

The Trojans will be relegated to underdog status against conference powers. Going back to last season, USC is 7-7 in Pac-10 games.

Becoming a mid-level Pac-12 for a brief period may not be a bad thing. The Trojan nation will become hungry again and come back with the fervor that engulfed the Coliseum from 2003-2006. We saw a glimpse of that vs. Oregon and it will only grow as the new alumni that experienced one of the greatest runs in college football history will get a little dose of reality and learn to be extremely grateful the next time USC makes a run at the national title. It will take some time but compared to the draught of the 90’s and early 2000’s, this will just be a blip on USC’s BCS Bowl appearance radar.

Three Keys to a USC victory vs. ASU:

** Continue discipline play: ASU has a penchant for getting untimely penalties like USC did at the beginning of the year. If the Trojans play a discipline game like they did against Oregon, they will have a huge advantage.

**Pressure the QB: ASU’s offense is predicated on the success of QB Steven Threet who transferred in last season from Michigan. He has a strong arm and Wide Receivers Kerry Taylor and Mike Willie could do some serious damage against the Trojans inexperienced secondary. The defensive line must get pressure on Threet who has a tendency to make ill advised throws under pressure (13 interceptions on the year). If the Trojans get into ASU’s back-field consistently they will win the game by at least two to three scores.

**Quick hitting offense: ASU loves to blitz and if USC can get the ball out quickly to the likes of Stanley Havili and Robert Woods, they should be able to get quite a few yards after the catch. It is imperative that Barkley makes the quick read and let it go and not try and hang on to make a bigger play.

Middle Linebacker competition resumes: With Malcolm Smith healthy and back at weakside linebacker, Chris Galippo is back at middle linebacker and challenging Devon Kennard for the starting spot. “We’re looking at that position very closely,” Lane Kiffin said. “We’re rotating both (in practice) and we’ll see Saturday who is playing best for us.”

Mike Garrett resurfaces…in a surprisingly positive way: Some readers of the Skinny were nice enough to pass along this editorial piece by Mike Garrett in the New York Times. My worry has always been that Garrett might be bitter with how things ended at SC and become quite negative. However, he has not done that and took a step in the direction of eventually being able to come back to USC as a celebrated athletic director. If he can help further champion the cause for the NCAA to wake up to the problem of unscrupulous agents, he will help change his tarnished image. Garrett has never been and never will be very appealing from a PR standpoint. In fact, I had my own “gruff” encounters with him and his comments toward the end of his tenure were embarrassing. However, Garrett does bleed Cardinal and Gold to the umpteenth degree and as long as he continues on a positive course, he eventually deserves to be celebrated as one of the greatest Trojans not only for his on-field exploits but also for overseeing an extremely successful run of national championships and raising enough money to build a state of the art on-campus basketball arena.

Locker Room talk: Four USC juniors are talking about declaring for the NFL draft. Jurrell Casey, Armond Armstead, Tyron Smith and Nick Perry have all entertained thoughts of jumping to the league early. Perry’s pro potential may have been dashed with an injury, but as a redshirt sophomore, he is eligible to leave.

Will Monte be around next year?: Rumblings over Monte Kiffin’s future at USC continue to surface. In recent games, USC’s defensive fronts have become more in tune with Pete Carroll’s 4-3 under look than the stack base 4-3 look used in Tampa Two coverages. Is he worth the hefty price tag he is being paid to operate a defense he is not known for? Now that he is in his 70’s, Monte may not be against stepping down and taking on an administrative and consulting role with a young upstart defensive coordinator.

Rumblings about next year’s schedule: The Seattle Times Husky blog got a hold of the Washington schedule for 2011 and it shows that Washington will be returning to play USC for a second straight time on Nov. 12th. Looks like USC will be at Colorado on Nov. 5th and will probably host Utah according to reports coming out of Denver.



2 thoughts on “The Skinny: Trojans Show Improvement

  1. Freerdo – Even if Monte were to step down to an administrative/consulting role, he would still technically be a ‘coach’ which begs the question, who on the staff would be fired to make room for another coach?

    This is not going to happen.

  2. We are going to torture the Huskies next year with a good beatdown. I sure hope you are not right about these 4 players leaving for the league early. If so, we are screwed on defense. Who do we have to replace them?? USC needs to sue the NCAA. Haden playing nice to them is wrong

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