Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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BAD HANDS: USC fullback Stanley Havili fumbles after being hit by a Washington defender, one of three turnovers by the Trojans during their 16-13 loss to Washington.  They’ll regroup against Washington State but face another match against Cal in two weeks. 



A dose of reality for USC and fans

Washington State can't remedy this problem on Saturday

 

By Evan Barnes

Sentinel Sports Editor

 

Don't be fooled Trojan fans when they wipe the Coliseum with Washington State this Saturday. This team was never national title material.

 

Heck, you can argue they aren't even Rose Bowl material. The most impressive Pac-10 team lies to the north at Berkeley.

 

This is bigger than USC losing to an unranked opponent - one who was vastly underrated by national pundits. Right now, they are playing like they'll play in a bowl game in December for the first time since 2002.

 

Serious quarterback issues abound and no matter how many 100-yard rushing games Joe McKnight can have, this team won't win with an adequate quarterback. They need Matt Barkley and Aaron Corp to start turning the corner fast.

 

But that won't happen unless they get more freedom. So offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates - that Washington loss is on you and other losses will be if you don't trust the kids to run the kingdom.

 

Oh yeah, and kicking field goals in a close game won't cut it anymore. When did the mighty Trojan offense become a Big Ten team?

 

The holes in their defense were poked again and again by Washington's Jake Locker. This young, unproven bunch just got their wakeup call and it's time for them to respond like past Trojan defenses have.

 

Last year's bunch lost to Oregon State. What happened next? They shutting down a weak Pac-10 the rest of the way to the Rose Bowl where they embarrassed an overmatched Penn State team.

 

Most of that defense is in the NFL. But what better way for this group to prove itself and gain an identity than start making statements.

 

No better to start than Saturday. Send this Washington State team back to Pullman in pieces. Show no mercy and re-establish yourselves. Just know that self-confidence booster won't impress anybody else outside that locker room.

This is all about making a statement before you actually make one worth hearing in two weeks. Learn to how dominate lesser opponents and use them as springboards for the real test in Berkeley.

 

Trojan fans can feel happy one thing. Joe McKnight has played up to his potential - minus his penchant for fumbling - and has arguably been the MVP of the young season.

 

Sadly, outside of the running game, there isn't much to be proud about. Their run defense has been solid but that won't help against Kevin Riley (Cal), Jeremiah Masoli (Oregon) or Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame).

 

And with Taylor Mays on a gimpy knee, the team needs someone in their secondary to step up and make big plays, not give them up.

 

USC is stuck in neutral and slowly heading in reverse. The bleeding will stop Saturday against Washington State but that's like putting a band-aid on a knife wound.

 

They could win by 20-30 but it won't mean anything. A pride game barely intrigues fans in December so why would it in September.

 

Last week's game could either be a wake-up call or a harbinger of doom. Too bad it feels like it will be the latter unless something radically changes.

 

On the bright side, at least Trojans fans will finally get their wish to play somewhere besides the Rose Bowl.

 

 

Category: Football


 

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