Uninspired attitude leads to disappointing season for USC

Adjectives were thrown around like it was Christmas in the USC locker room after the game Saturday.

Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

It seems no one could find the right words to describe the 21-17 loss the No. 20 Trojans suffered at the hands of Arizona.

Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley had to paused for a while before reaching a conclusion.

“I’m trying to think,” a not-so-visibly-displeased Barkley said. “I’d say unbelievable. I’d say amazing, crazy.”


Sixth-year senior offensive guard Jeff Byers, a captain in his final home game as a Trojan, shared a different opinion.

“It is what it is,” Byers said. “It’s frustrating and it’s hard, but dwelling on it is not gonna help me, not gonna help anybody else.”

“It’s part of life.”

Ask Arizona quarterback Nick Foles, who led his team to a final-drive victory in the last three minutes, and you get a bit of a different opinion.

“It comes down to will and wanting it,” Foles said. “And our guys have a lot of heart. USC played great, but our guys wanted it more.”

I’d agree, Mr. Foles.

But I heard a lot of different reasons — a lot of buts, some more valid than others— from the USC side.

“To not be able to win our games at the Coliseum is a big disappointment,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “But it’s young program and there is a tremendous feeling about the guys coming up.”

Fourth-year junior receiver Damian Williams limped to his locker, nursing a still-sore ankle injury. He looked beyond disappointed, if that’s possible.

“It’s tough to swallow,” said Williams, who was reported by multiple sources to be yelling at his teammates in the second half, saying they were getting their butts kicked. “But at the same time, that’s what you go to practice for every day.”

Senior safety Will Harris brought up the uncanny amount of injuries that affected USC.

“It was just a frustrating year,” Harris said. “Two guys going down with neck injuries, Stafon with the throat, and it was just a very emotional and frustrating year for us. But we did the best we can.

Fourth-year junior running back Allen Bradford blamed the time of the game.

“I’m not sure what it was,” Bradford said. “Probably just waking up early, being used to night games, I don’t know what it was.”

Well, whatever it was, it surely wasn’t what they expected.

Four losses in one year for a team that lost once last season and considered it a disappointment.

Four losses in one year for a team that has been to the Rose Bowl the last four years.

Four losses in one year for a team that has been used to being at the top of the conference.

“It feels so different,” Carroll said. “It is so different from where we have been and what we have done.”

This year will be memorable, without a doubt. But for the wrong reasons.

“I’ve never been a part of this,” Harris said. “Every year I’ve been going to the Rose Bowl so it’s gonna feel a little weird.”

But the excuses — the excuses, we could do without.

“I think it’s funny that we call this a low,” Byers said. “An 8-4 season is pretty darn good by most people’s standards.”

And maybe USC will grow from this, maybe USC will bounce back next year. But for now, what USC’s 8-4 season comes down to — in all likelihood — is a December 23 date at the Poinsettia Bowl with Utah of the Mountain West Conference.

The 2009 Trojans’ last chance to prove themselves, they say.
“Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Vegas Bowl, who cares?” Byers said. “Wherever it is, let’s go and let’s have fun. We’ve got one more shot at this thing to prove who we are to go out and show the world what we are and what we’re all about. That’s what we’re going to do and that’s the only thing we can do.”

6 replies
  1. JS
    JS says:

    It’s a lot of things, but discipline very much plays into it and the overriding devotion to Barkley. Two things about the season stick out in my mind very much. The celebration of the guy who made the tackle on the penultimate play in the Washington game…just before they lost on that short FG. The 2nd being Barkley’s comment about “not learning anything from the humiliating beating at Oregon”, wow. I still can’t believe he said that. Carroll needed to be a coach more this season, and less a “good buddy” to this team. A lack of defensive skill in the secondary, just ate them up from the ND game onward, they were badly exposed and outplayed. The play at mlb wasn’t there either. PC can admit the failings or just gloss over it with the “good buddy” stuff and rah rah. If he does they’ll lose 3 or 4 more again next year. 8-4 still isn’t bad, it’s just mediocre and playing in the Emerald Nut bowl is their reward. Take your long johns. I went to the inaugural game, and even the AF Falcon didn’t want to fly that night…….cheers.

  2. Tru04
    Tru04 says:

    Bradford blames the kickoff time? Really? Seriously AB, it shouldn’t matter if the game starts at 12:30 or 7:30, you have to be up and ready to play, champions play with that fire every week and obviously this was not a championship team. Perhaps the season was sold when Coach named a true Freshman as a starting QB, no matter who the captains of a team are, everyone always looks to the QB for leadership and no offense to Barkley, but who would listen to a kid barely out of high school. It’s true 8-4 is a good season under most standards, however when a program pulls top talent into the program year after year, expectations are higher. In addition it is also how those four losses came: 2 blow outs, an uninspired game against a far inferior opponent, and a lack of offense in the final game of the year, but that again the offense vanished in the second half of most games away. I hope this isn’t a sign of the team getting fat and happy and losing that fire, just see how well that worked out for Miami.

  3. Alum
    Alum says:

    Pete Carroll “fell in love” with Matt Barkeley and never thought of benching him, despite Barkeley’s terrible numbers re: pics and bad passes. He had a shot at the end of the Arizona game with 3 minutes left and he blew his opportunity yet again. Three incomplete passes and a sack. No wonder Damien Williams was more than upset. Willliams was wide open and Barkeley threw him a bad pass.
    It is shocking, particularly after the losses to Oregon and Stanford, that Aaron Corp or Mitch Mustain were never given a chance to play. If I were them, I would transfer. Asked at half time whether he was concerned with Barkeley’s pck on the second play of the game on Saturday, Carroll merely said: ” We have to help Matt.” How about Matt demonstrating some leadership on the field and coverting on third down? ( 3 out of 15 is a joke).

    T.J. Simer’s article in yesterday’s LA Times was right on the money.

  4. alumni2007
    alumni2007 says:

    It is disappointing to see a season like this. It just seems like they lacked motivation to win! I wonder though how bad is Mitch Mustain, that inspite of the Barkley’s spotty play he did not get a chance? Beats me!

  5. trojan
    trojan says:

    Despite the season being over the Daily Trojan should report on the real reason we have been losing games this season – a lack of discipline. Specifically the amount of partying and drinking players have been engaged in during the days leading up to the game. I’m in a fraternity at SC and we constantly have players at our parties often on Thursday and Friday nights before games. In fact at least 5 of our players were spotted at a party in Hollywood the night before the Arizona game. People need to know what is going on with the football program that their tuition is paying for, and maybe Pete Carroll would listen up and fix these glaring discipline issues too.

    • big brother
      big brother says:

      But then…I guess the players didn’t party the nights before games in prior seasons huh?

      Our defense is gone. It’s not the discipline that’s gone.

      “The monopoly is over,” as the UCLA coach said last season.

      All good things come to an end.

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