Take a Breath, ‘SC fan

first_img Plus, after four sparkling years of football, Trojan fans have undoubtedly put their pompous ways of the past behind them and now can bask in their success without getting bent over one loss. Right? Talk show callers checked in, as did those who frequent USC Web sites, as did the various media types who talk and write for a living, especially those who take an obscene glee yes, I’m talking about all of you in Bristol, Conn. in seeing a team fall off its pedestal. There were a lot of facets of USC’s performance that can be picked apart the first fourth-down miss, Reggie Bush’s SportsCenter motivated lateral, and the coaches not using LenDale White early and often enough. You can have all of them. I just want one to pick on, because it is a point very dear to Carroll’s reputation: What was up with the defense? Vince Young is an incredible player who brings things to the field few others can. He’s a bit of a genetic freak with his ability to move as fast and as quickly as he does for someone who stands 6-5 and weighs 233 pounds. He may have an odd delivery, but his release is lightning quick. And he has an insouciant about him that had to be unnerving for Trojan defenders. But even the greatest of players can be harnessed, and given how well USC has adapted its game plans in the past, it was equally unnerving to watch USC lie back in a base defense and take all of Young’s hits chin first. The defensive line played read and react all night in hopes of containing Young. It never worked. All it did was turn the most physical players on the defense Frostee Rucker, LuJuan Ramsey into watchdogs. The safeties stayed in a soft two deep alignment all night, which gave Young’s underrated receivers plenty of room to run their short routes. The next time the Trojans do a good job covering Texas tight end David Thomas will be the first time. He was always open and always single covered. Of his ten catches, six went for first downs and two others left Texas with a second-and-one. This didn’t make sense. I would have loved to have seen strong safety Darnell Bing planted in Young’s path more often than he was, given that the 6-2, 220-pound Bing is the team’s hardest hitter and biggest player in the back seven. Even when USC did something different on defense, it seemed like taking a flyswatter to King Kong. Those delayed corner blitzes were so slow to develop that Young never seem hurried or flustered. Plus, what chance did 5-10 Justin Wyatt or 5-10 Ryan Ting have of sacking Young on a blitz? USC never put a big man on Young and hit him hard enough to jar his confidence. The few times Young hit the grass, it was of his own choosing. The size and strength of the Longhorn offensive line, which lined up five 300-pounders, was clearly under-estimated, as was the relative size of USC’s linebackers in dealing with them. But still if you’re truly national championship material, you do not let any one player rack up 467 yards, even one as talented as Young. You find a way to throw his game off. Instead, USC had no clue what was coming beyond the fact that Young would be involved. That was sad. Also predictable. Months ago, it was posited here that the only way to beat USC would be to outscore their amazing offense, and that proved to be correct. Did you know that USC moved into Texas territory on every possession save two, the first drive of the game and one in the second quarter? That they scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half? And that they turned the ball over to Texas at the Longhorn 17 (downs), 19 (Bush’s fumble), in the end zone (interception) and at the 45 (downs), and that the game ended with their last play starting on the Texas 42? Yes, Bush made a huge mistake and struggled. Yes, Leinart has played better. Yes, the Trojans should have used White more. But the offense still did enough to win the game if the USC defense and its head coach hadn’t capitulated and spent as much time admiring Young’s work as the 93,986 in the stands. That’s not a criticism, of course, just an observation, and it comes and goes fleetingly. At least here it does. Elsewhere in the Trojan universe? One can never be sure. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Right? RIGHT? One wonders. As rational as all the above may be, there was a whole lot of dismay on the faces of Trojan fans in the Rose Bowl after the 41-38 loss. Clearly, USC fans have come to expect victory, and believe that their young men will find a way to win regardless of the setting, opponent or situation. Even in light of Vince Young’s brilliance, USC fans cheered with expectations of superiority which is what made their silence after the loss so deafening. There was no waiting period, no cooling off period, for the critics to come out of the chorus and start picking apart USC’s first loss some 28 months ago, in September of 2003, harping on everything from the obvious, like Carroll’s fourth-and-two decision, to the obscure. center_img Assuredly, two national titles has bought Pete Carroll some equity among USC fans. After winning 34 games in a row, one can reasonably assume that the faithful of Troy will give him a mulligan, even if the errant upchuck happened to be for the national title in the Rose Bowl. last_img read more