USC 31, Washington 32. You win some…

     I had some writing to do this week regarding the NCAA sanctions, but was unable to do anything.  My wife and I added another Trojan fan to the family this week.  The hospital’s internet server, much to my surprise, blocked access to all blogs.  Curiously, they did allow access to Facebook.  So; rather than adding to my USC blog, I had to settle for constant “what I had for lunch” updates from people who I haven’t spoken to for 10 years, or updates from closer friends regarding the bowel movements of their children.  (You’ve gotta be close to the inner circle to get away with that stuff.  If you’re “that girl Steve dated in 1995;” this will get you blocked pretty quick.)

     Mixed feelings on this game.  Of course, I’m not very happy with the end result; but there were some bright spots that we’ll talk about a little bit later.

     First; you may have noticed that we got off to a slow start.  This is how almost every game since 2001 (the beginning of the Pete Carroll Era) started.  The reason for this is the “15-play script.”  See – the first 15 offensive plays from are set before the game starts.  These are run to test the opposing team’s defensive squad and see how they react to certain plays.  Amazingly, nobody seems to notice this; so I always will hear that “we’re gonna lose” garbage from fans in the first 5 minutes of the game.  Football is a long game – save that “we’re not going to blow this one, are we?” stuff for times like when Washington made that 4th down conversion with 2 minutes left.  That’s when I said it.

     My daughter, Lauren, got to take in her first USC game today.  Like any good Trojan parent; I already know how I’m paying her tuition.  (I am not sure how her future brothers and sisters will pay for it; but I need to tackle one problem at a time here.)  She was crying about our sluggish offense at the beginning; but she’s only 3 days old.  I explained it to her, but I don’t really expect women to be football experts.  This isn’t a sexist “barefoot and pregnant” type opinion – football knowledge just isn’t a quality that men expect out of women.  To use another example; if your wife/girlfriend/female friend calls and says that her car has a flat tire, you’ll probably go out to help her.  (or at least call AAA.)  Never in my life has another guy called me and said that he had a flat tire and needed help.  If one ever did; my answer would be “put the spare on, princess!”  Guys are expected to know how to do this; women aren’t.

     About 8 years ago, some co-workers of mine were sent out to change a flat tire on the bosses’ car.  Once they had been gone for three hours, I was asked to check on them.  I found them all standing around trying to figure out how to loosen the lug nuts.  Not only did they miss the whole “righty tighty, lefty loosie” concept, but they also jacked up the car before they loosened the lug nuts.  Rather than putting the car back down, their solution was to get into it and hold down the brakes so that the wheel wouldn’t turn with the tire iron.  Of course, when they did this; the car fell off the jack. 

     If these had been 3 women, I would have helped.  Since it was 3 men, however, I spend the next 15 minutes laughing my ass off and questioning their manhood. (I don’t mean calling them “gay,” either.  I expect any man to know how to do this.)  Those 3 guys were all ucla graduates by the way.  Can’t even change a tire…  ‘Nuff said!

     It’s quite possible that I’m going off topic to avoid talking about tonight’s game.  Losing always sucks, but I at least saw some positives: Shareece Wright stripping the ball from Lockyer 4 yards before he scored a touchdown was epic.  Ditto his hit on Lockyer towards the end of the game that made Jake’s legs give out when he tried to stand up.  2 running quarterbacks facing SC this year; 2 concussions!  Barkley showed some great footwork, Allen Bradford ran for 223 yards, Robert Woods had another great return for us, and the “Wildcat” worked for us!

     The negatives are, unfortunately, a longer list.  We stopped doing the Wildcat after the first half.  That’s a move known as “Find what works and stop doing it.”  (I call it the “Jim Tressel,” myself.)  That penalty against Shareece Wright for the “hit to the head” was total bullshit.  I’ll just leave it at that, since bad calls are a part of the game – and that’s it.  Barkley wasn’t very accurate passing, and our place-kicking game reminds me of my undergraduate days.  (I think our guy had a 25% average on PATs – I do remember us punting from the other teams’ 35 yard line once.)  I think the real letdown on this game was our defense.  We let Washington convert 3rd downs at will.  We let their backup quarterback come in the game and throw a touchdown pass.  Just like the fabled USC-Texas game, it’s the defense’s job to make sure they don’t just walk down the field and win the game.

     I am hopeful that this will get better, though.  Last year, Oregon walked all over us; and Stanford used the same game plan to do the same thing.  I think that Pete Carroll was already shopping for a house in Seattle last year, and was “phoning it in” the whole time.  I think that the Kiffins and the rest of our staff can build from this.

     And… we’ve signed a kicker from Bakersfield for 2011.

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