After enduring a long nine months without college football, the USC Trojans are back and looking to make an impact this season. We’re a couple of games in already and I can’t wait to see where the coming months will take this team.
First, a reaction to the game against Alabama:
I invite the Trojans to remember that Alabama was the best team in the country last year (and in recent years, for that matter), and while a loss is a loss, there was a lot to the Trojans’ performance that the scoreboard doesn’t show. In the first quarter, we demonstrated a resilience and practicality that kept the Crimson Tide at bay. A staunch defensive effort in the first quarter is a major takeaway for the game, especially against a team like Alabama. Our first-quarter celebrations proved to be somewhat premature, as the Tide ran away with the win. Alabama’s freshman quarterback, Jalen Hurts, had a fantastic debut while Max Browne had some difficulty against Alabama’s defense.
We seemed to lose focus after a couple key plays by Alabama, and from there our mindset and tactics started to change. I’d much rather see the Trojans keep playing the way we were when we were winning: with confidence and control.
The Trojans respond in their home opener:
A week later, as expected, ‘SC came out with intensity against the Aggies of Utah State. Juju Smith-Schuster (who was visibly frustrated the week before in training) was able to get in the mix, as did team captain, Adoree’ Jackson. That is huge for the Trojans. Smith-Schuster and Jackson energize the team like not many other players can, and we want them to hit their respective strides earlier rather than later in the season. We rotated quarterbacks later in the game, and put some good points up on the board, while the defense was able to stymie almost every drive by Utah State. We wanted a blowout win, and the Trojans provided that with a good all-around performance.
Coming up, the Stanford-USC saga continues:
To be blunt, Stanford has a very good program and many will expect them to win. But don’t count out the Trojans just yet. It’s good for us to play with a chip on our shoulders, with something to prove. In order to have a chance, however, there are a few keys to the game we are going to have to keep in mind. First, the Trojans are going to have to run the ball. With arguably the most talent in the position that we’ve had since the Reggie Bush era, I’d love to see us invest more energy in the ground game than we did in the first two games. Second, if we accept the fact that Christian McCaffrey will dominate the offensive scheme for the Cardinal, then we can respond to that rather than resist it. The goal here for the Trojans should be to bend, but not break when it comes to Stanford’s running game. Third, the Trojans will have to limit Stanford’s special teams to not give up easy yards on straightforward plays. And finally, we can’t let ourselves get rattled on defense and then try to overcompensate on offense. We need to stay true to our strategy and place trust in our star players.
I, for one, am anxious to get this game underway and find out what our Trojans can do against the Cardinal in Palo Alto this weekend. Fight on!