Pac-10 Week 11 Notes and Observations: USC Trojans

By Sam Saig, November 16, 2009 9:45 pm

USC Trojans 7-3 Overall (4-3 Conference)

This Week’s Score: Stanford 55 – USC 21

Next Week’s Opponent: BYE

“I’m not sure I have the right words to describe being humbled like this. I don’t really know where to put it. … We have fallen apart and given our opponents the opportunity to do whatever they want, but you have to give Stanford a lot of credit.”Pete Carroll

It’s happening to Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Florida State. So why did we believe that a humbling season was inconceivable for this USC program? Is it because Pete Carroll recruits so well? Get over that; the programs mentioned above are full of 5-star talent. The reality is USC needs time to develop, and not just the players. Rocky Seto is 33 years old, and in his first season as a defensive coordinator. Jeremy Bates is 33 years old and this is his first time coaching college football (a much different animal than pro ball).

For those that think this is the beginning of the end for USC football, keep dreaming. While the rest of the Pac-10 is recruiting at a much higher level than in recent memory, ‘SC is still comfortably leading the charge on that front. In fact, Pac-10 fans can thank Pete Carroll for forcing their schools to hit the recruiting trail that much harder.

Having said all of that… Saturday’s drubbing will require the eternally optimistic Pete Carroll to come up with his best motivation material. The truth is USC got beat by a better team this past weekend. The Cardinal were the more physical team (as they often are), and it was clear to me that they wanted it more.

Matt Barkley had a miserable game (21/31 196 yards 1 TD, 3 INTs), and there was miscommunication throughout the afternoon on offense (particularly Barkley and the receivers). One of the few positives from Saturday was the play of Joe McKnight (16 carries, 142 yards 1 TD), who showcased his signature speed and explosiveness even in a losing effort.

Defensively, I refuse to pile on with excessive criticism the way most will, because frankly, Saturday’s result had a lot more to do with Stanford’s offense than it did USC’s D. This is where you tip your cap to Toby Gerhart, Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh for a well-executed gameplan.

Now the Trojans will have a bye before the rivalry game with UCLA. The way this season has gone, earning the Victory Bell against the Bruins is no sure thing.

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