Posts Tagged ‘usc’

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

My reaction to Pete Carroll leaving for the Seahawks

God.  Dammit. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.

Pac-10 laying an egg

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Not a good start for the Pac-10 in their bowl season.  After going undefeated last year, they’re winless so far.  I’m hoping USC doesn’t embarrass itself further this year with a loss to BC in the prestigious “Emerald” Bowl this week.  It’s in San Francisco — about as close to a home game as you’re going to get, short of either the Holiday Bowl (San Diego) or Las Vegas Bowl.  (Notice my lack of mention of the Rose Bowl — yeah, this team isn’t in that conversation).

USC v UCLA redux

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

This year’s installment of the cross-town rivalry was a bit boring.  USC showed its 2009-signature lack of offense, again, scoring nothing until late in the 4th quarter.  It was USC’s defense that really won this game, scoring twice and holding that 14-7 lead until the offense finally broke through.  UCLA looked schizophrenic on offense, whereas USC was its 2009 ineffectual norm.

The boredom ended late in the game with 52 seconds left.  USC had the ball with a 21-7 lead, and attempted to run out the clock by having the (caretaker) quarterback take a knee.  This put UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel in a tough spot.  He’s got 3 timeouts left, which means that if he takes them all and stops USC, he can get at least one more possession.  This game in particular is important to both teams’ recruiting efforts in Southern California.  Many, many would-be recruits are at this game.  So, I get that UCLA can’t exactly just give up.  That said, I interpreted this as something of a dare from Rick Neuheisel.  I’ve heard the guy in interviews on Dan Patrick‘s radio show, and it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t like Pete Carroll.  If you just read what he says, it all reads as polite and professional.  But, hearing him makes it clear why UCLA was so comfortable putting Neuheisel’s mug on its “The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over” billboards.

So, Neuheisel has painted himself into a corner.  He’s cultivated this persona of wanting to challenge/needle Pete Carroll, but I also think he likes it.  He calls time-out.  The crowd in the Coliseum rains down boos.  Pete Carroll is animated.  He takes Neuheisel’s dare and one ups him on the next play:  play-action fake, long pass down the field for a score.  The USC team is fired up, doing their (annoying, IMO) pre-game “fire-it-up” bounce thing.  Inexplicably, this is reported as “taunting”.  I watched the game.  This isn’t taunting.  That makes no sense.  Ever see a USC practice?  I have.  They do the same (annoying) thing.  Who are they taunting then?  Answer:  nobody, because it’s not taunting, you morons.  What some individual players did (making faces, etc) was taunting, but the press has reported this as some team-orchestrated taunting ritual, which just isn’t the case.  USC wasn’t the team that cleared its bench afterward & postured itself across midfield — that was UCLA.  Does it suck to have your rival beat you?  Yes it does.  I would know.  I was at USC when the eight year drought against UCLA was going on (and thankfully ended in 1999).  It happens.  UCLA ran up the score when they could.  That’s the nature of the rivalry.  But USC didn’t try to start a fight, and they didn’t whine about it afterward.  (Ok, actually, I did whine about it in 1996, when at the Rose Bowl, the UCLA fans cheered and celebrated when UCLA managed to injure USC quarterback Brad Otton, eventually leading to an overtime loss for USC after leading 38-17).  Rick Neuheisel actually seems to get that, since he’s not whining about it.  But, the UCLA fans should grow the hell up.  It didn’t particularly bother me when Stanford attempted to run up the score on USC this year, because I figure that over time, that’s just going to bite them in the rear — who is more likely to step on the other team’s throat in coming years?  Yeah, nice win this year, great team for Stanford, but that doesn’t bother me.  As a side note, I’ll take criticism from UCLA fans about “classlessness” approximately never.  Both teams have boorish fans, to be sure, but my opinion about the height of UCLA-fan classiness stems from an incident in 1996 (after the aforementioned overtime win for UCLA).  I watched some bratty UCLA fans actually push an older guy in USC regalia to the ground in the parking lot as he attempted to get in his car.  Seriously.  YOU JUST WON.  And yet, you’re pushing a geezer on the ground.  I’m sure that some drunken USC fan has done boorish crap before, too.  But don’t lecture me as though UCLA is some pinnacle of sportsmanship and good-natured competition, and that this incident somehow mars what is otherwise a high-brow affair.

Would I have preferred that Pete Carroll take the high road & rush the ball instead?  Yeah, definitely.  After all, this is supposedly “tailback U”.  But, USC’s definitely down this year (for them), and so I can’t entirely fault Pete Carroll for ripping one down the field when he saw the chance.  Despite his focus on defense, the dude likes offense (he’s commented about how it was “fun again” last year when Sanchez was throwing TDs left and right), and there hasn’t been any this year.  It was a gamble, but what really was on the line?  It’s not like this was the Rose Bowl and the national championship was at stake on a 4th-and-2 against UT.  (D’oh — still, that was statistically the right call).  I do hope that both teams cool down a bit before next year, however.

Football Roundup

Monday, September 28th, 2009

First, USC is still on a long road of recovery after sucking monumentally against Washington.  Yes, UW is a great story.  Even USC’s second string should have beaten a team that went winless last year.  (If you believe USC is a championship-caliber program, then the championship-caliber program’s backups should also be pretty darn good).  I’m still not sold on Matt Barkley (see:  USC offense’s inability to convert on 4th and goal — twice — against Washington State).  Still way too much inconsistency, and I think Barkley would have lost against Washington, too.  He threw some legitimately great passes in the 1st quarter and then proceeded to do nothing.  That said, Aaron Corp is a headcase, and god help the Trojans if they come to rely on him.  In his garbage-time playing in the 4th quarter, he managed to fumble.  Ouch.  Unless the offense takes a leap forward, I expect USC to lose at least one more game this year — possibly against UCLA.

Outside of the Pac-10, what an awesome win for the Houston Cougars.  I’m certainly no fan of Tortilla Tech (fun to watch, but I have personal experience with their annoying-ass fans), but it’s just great to see UH not suck.  Texas A&M, are you taking notes on how to be a decent team in Texas without UT’s recruits?  Also, UT — do.  not.  care.  While I’d love to see them lose quickly (OU — again?) to deflate the UT hype, there might be something satisfying about seeing them get pummeled by Florida or Alabama.

How about those Houston Texans?  Now, it’s nice to see Schaub being productive (he’s actually on my auto-drafted fantasy football team), but the defense is nothing short of awful.  That was the Jaguars.  The Jaguars!! Granted, the Texans got totally boned by the referees on the game-tying touchdown (ie, non-pass-interference by Kevin Walter in the endzone away from the play, when he was trying to run in traffic), but they also shouldn’t have given up 31 to the Jaguars.  Rated #1 in the AFC South, huh Sports Illustrated?  Thanks for getting my hopes up, again.

Caretaker Quarterbacks

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Last week’s USC-Ohio State game was dramatic at the end, even if it wasn’t particularly exciting to watch.  As a USC fan, it was also somewhat satisfying.  But, it also reminds me of the John David Booty season, and I’m expecting similar results.  That may change throughout the season, but right now, I’m expecting at least a couple of games where things either don’t click and another player can’t make it happen, or Barkley winds up getting rocked by a defense and the Trojans get blown out.  That said, as I watched the game with a friend of mine, some perspective is required here.  It’s kind of funny that USC fans (like me) are thinking of a “meh” season as 2 losses and a likely top-10 finish.  I was at USC in the late 90s, when USC never won more than 7 games in a season.  When Pete Carroll retires, it’ll be a national day of mourning for USC fans.

As for Matt Barkley, he may or may not become a great quarterback.  I hope he does.  Right now, he looks extremely shaky.  For almost the entire game, he simply could not make it happen, against a defense that was stacking against the run.  Ohio State basically dared Barkley to beat them, and for the most part, he couldn’t.  In the 4th quarter, he delivered some short passes to USC’s (outstanding, as always recently) WRs and RBs who turned them into good yardage.  That was great, and USC wound up winning a game they really shouldn’t have won (except for Jim Tressel’s overly conservative play-calling).  But, this was a long way off from Matt Leinart’s first start (as a sophomore) picking apart Auburn’s defense and leading the Trojans to a 23-0 win.  Granted, Leinart didn’t have gaudy numbers, but he did show something Matt Barkley hasn’t showed:  the ability to consistently complete the big pass on 3rd down, or to make a defense pay on a long play.  Matt Leinart did those things as a sophomore in his first start.  Hopefully Barkley will come along, but I think it’s unreasonable for us USC fans to be expecting that in his first season.  In short, we’re spoiled, and to paraphrase the warning from stock market companies, “past results to not indicate future successes”.  I think the media is far too convinced of Barkley’s awesomeness on the strength of just one drive (compared to 3 & 1/2 quarters of near absence) than they should be.

The start-of-the-season characterization of him as a “caretaker quarterback” is far more apt, until he proves otherwise.  USC’s last caretaker QB was John David Booty, who couldn’t get it done against a hapless UCLA team in a game that would’ve gotten USC to the BCS title game.  That’s not to say Booty was bad, nor that Barkley has been or will be.  But, a team with a caretaker QB is a world apart from having a Heisman winner like Palmer or Leinart, and expectations for this team should be set accordingly.