Tripped up in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. — Any hopes then-No. 9 USC had of playing in Miami for the BCS National Title game are essentially gone.

Trailing by three points, the Trojans were unable to convert a late Hail Mary attempt as time expired, losing 39-36 at Arizona Stadium.

Tough to take · USC junior wide receiver Robert Woods walks off the field after losing to Arizona, 36-39. Despite a USC-record 493 passing yards from senior quarterback Matt Barkley, the Trojans were unable to hold off the Wildcats. – Carlo Acenas | Daily Trojan

Despite a school-record 345 receiving yards from sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee, the Trojans’ 13 penalties and five turnovers ultimately led to their downfall.

“It was a very discouraging loss today,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “We made a lot of mistakes and weren’t able to catch up.”

The game was filled with penalties and strange calls for USC (6-2, 4-2) from the onset. After receiving the opening kickoff, junior running back Silas Redd appeared to score on a 34-yard touchdown run, but officials ruled he was down after he spun off an Arizona defender and his elbow touched the ground.

Senior quarterback Matt Barkley, who threw for a school-record 493 yards on the afternoon to go along with his three touchdown passes, was intercepted off a tipped pass with 9:15 left in the first quarter. A taunting penalty by senior safety T.J. McDonald left the Trojans’s defense on the field after what should have been a three-and-out. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott threw an eight-yard touchdown later on in the drive, to make it 7-0 for the Wildcats.

Lee caught a 57-yard pass on first-and-30 later in the first quarter. But on fourth-and-2, Barkley missed sophomore tight end Xavier Grimble in the end zone and the Trojans gave the ball back to Arizona (5-3, 1-3). The Wildcats finished the opening frame up 10-0.

“We made plays out there; there’s no question about the playmaking of our guys,” Barkley said. “But we just kept cheating ourselves early in the game.”

The second quarter didn’t start much better for the Trojans, as Redd fumbled at the Arizona 10-yard line. The Trojans’ defense held, however, and forced a Wildcat punt.

With 11:12 left in the half, Lee caught another deep pass, this one for 50 yards. The Trojans scored with a little more than 10 minutes left when Barkley hit Grimble in the flat, after which he took it upfield.

Barkley was intercepted on the next Trojan drive, though, giving the Wildcats the ball at the 34-yard line. But Arizona failed to convert a fourth-and-5, and Lee again made a highlight-reel play on the ensuing possession.

Lee took a short slant pass 49 yards and blazed past Wildcat defenders, giving the Trojans their first lead of the day at 14-10. Starling intercepted a Scott pass but was stripped by an Arizona player, which gave the Wildcats the ball at the 28-yard line. Arizona made the most of it by hitting a 44-yard field goal to cut the Trojan lead to one.

After a couple more big plays from Lee, D.J. Morgan took it in from the three-yard line. USC took a 21-13 lead into the locker room.

“We all know he’s a special player,” Barkley said of Lee. “All the yards after the catch and what he can do with the ball.”

Things looked as if they might have finally turned around for the Trojans after halftime, as they got off to a fast start in the third quarter. Lee caught a 44-yard touchdown to break R. Jay Soward’s school record of  260 yards and Mike Hass’ conference record of 293 receiving yards in a game.

The Wildcats, as was the theme the entire game, responded with four minutes left in the third.  Scott scored on a quarterback draw to bring Arizona closer at 28-20. Sophomore running back D.J. Morgan fumbled on the next drive and the Wildcats capitalized with a touchdown pass from Scott to receiver Dan Buckner. They missed the two-point conversion, trailing the Trojans 28-26.

The fourth quarter, however, was when things fell apart.

Arizona took a 32-28 lead with 10:46 left in the fourth after the Trojans failed to convert a fourth-and-two attempt. They scored again on Scott’s third scoring pass of the day with just under six minutes left in the game.

“They did what they had to do to win,” junior cornerback Nickell Robey said. “We gave a lot of effort and we played the best game we can play. The effort level we had today was remarkable.”

Lee returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards, and the Trojans scored on a 10-yard touchdown run from Redd. USC converted a two-point try on a pass to Lee, bringing the Arizona lead to just 39-36.

That was as close as it would get, though.

The Trojans got the ball back with just under a minute left, and had the chance to win the game on a last second Hail Mary. Lee had a chance to secure a jump ball in the endzone as time expired, but lost the ball in a scrum of Arizona defenders.

“You never know. Those are kind of throw-up plays,” Barkley said of the last-second heave. “I don’t think it should have come down to a play like that in the first place. It’s unfortunate that it did.”

After the disappointing loss, the Trojans face No. 4 Oregon on Nov. 3 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t make the plays — all the credit to Arizona,” sophomore cornerback Josh Shaw said. “Now we’ve just got to regroup, come back and we have a big week ahead. Guys are kind of down right now … but we’ll come back.”

Kickoff for the next game, which will be televised on FOX, is set for 4 p.m.

10 replies
  1. Serf
    Serf says:

    Do none of you understand how thin this football team is? We aren’t able to sub easily, so these players will get tired and make mental mistakes. Don’t put this on the coach. Hindsight is 20/20 – if that reverse worked, you’d think he’s a genius. Some real fair weather fans here.

  2. The Croc
    The Croc says:

    Between the inane offensive play calling (a REVERSE on 4th and 2??????), the total ineptitude of the defense, and a complete failure to work the game clock, tonight’s game proved that it is time for Lane and Monty Kiffin to be put out to pasture.

    There is no question that we have the talent on the field, but the talent on the sidelines is definitely lacking. If USC wants to regain its football dominance, it must do so without the albatross of the Kiffins.

    The Pete Carroll era was a magical time, and one that probably won’t be replicated soon, but we can learn a lot of his coaching style. Even in the face of losses, Carroll maintained a positive attitude and exuded a true love of the game. He motivated the players and kept the fans reassured. In fact, most of the time you saw Carroll during the game, he’d have a smile on his face. In short, Pete Carroll exemplified what it is to be a Trojan in a way that the abrasive, glowering asshole, Lane Kiffin, never will.

  3. Jason
    Jason says:

    I agree…while I am a junior transfer and know almost next to nothing about football…from what I have seen, it is time for Kiffin to go….out with the lame and in with the winners…we have too many penalties and too many poor plays that we have run. Part of our losses are due to the players (mainly for the stupid penaliteis) and part of it is the coaching staff. We need new blood in this schools football team… that simple

    • Manny
      Manny says:

      And where do you suppose this will come from? As someone who doesn’t know much about football, what credibility do you have? If we have a new coach, we’ll be rebuilding again, which will be even WORSE because of the sanctions. Who would come here willingly with our recruiting sanctions? And how can you possibly expect more success when we have those limitations and an entirely new system with players that Kiffin currently has most likely won’t adjust to quickly?

      Kiffin inherited these sanctions. Let him ride them out and see this through. Our offensive line is our weak spot – we are thin there due to injuries and sanctions. The Stanford loss exposed us there. If we turn away now, things can only go south. All of these thoughts like yours are typical overreactions, and thankfully Pat Haden will ignore this. Besides, penalties and turnovers are the fault of the players. Think!

  4. Tommy Trojan 71
    Tommy Trojan 71 says:


    What I remember are each of the losses we have endured because Daddy Kiffin couldn’t make a key stop: Washington, Stanford, Notre Dame in 2010; Stanford last year, and Stanford and Arizona this year. Lame is bad enough, with an undisciplined team that commits dumb penalty after dumb penalty. However, Daddy’s “D” stinks and too often renders moot a good effort by the offense.

    Time to wake up and smell the coffee: Lame had done NOTHING to deserve being named the SC coach in the first place, and he has done even less to merit retaining that position.

    • Manny
      Manny says:

      Stanford has been consistently a good team, much to our detriment – we truly found out the power of that front seven this year (I’ll admit I underestimated it). The other games have just been sloppy execution (or in Notre Dame’s case, a backup QB that played poorly) via penalties or turnovers combined with a shaky offensive line. You can coach those mistakes out of players all you want, but it’s up to them to execute, which they aren’t doing. Barkley and Redd have been turnover machines – their decision making is suspect this year.

      8-5 and 10-2 doesn’t merit retaining the position after two years? Especially considering the past two years were supposed to lead to USC falling out of the rankings for years to come via the sanctions? I’d say he’s done a decent job considering everything.

      Carroll hadn’t beaten a team in the state of Oregon for years. His teams lost at least once every year to a lesser opponent except for the championship years. Kiffin’s team last year goes up and puts an a** kicking on the dominant Ducks. Had it not been for a few execution errors against a good Stanford team last year, we’d be 11-1.

      Who in your mind is “worthy” of our program that has been underachieving for almost a decade?

      • Manny
        Manny says:

        (sorry to double post) Not to mention, who would be willing to pick up our sanctions as new coach and maintain the consistently good USC pro style? A coach with a spread offense a la West Virginia or Oregon would make me vomit.

        I don’t see them going anywhere, nor should they yet.

  5. Manny
    Manny says:

    How quickly sour some people get over a loss like this. Do you not remember 10-2 last year, blowing Oregon out of the water? Kiffin has plenty of talent – Barkley has definitely regressed this season, and killing this team are the turnovers, many of which come from Barkley. He of all people should know better, as a four year starter. My confidence in him has been shaken. The Kiffins have been doing fine as coaches, in my opinion. It’s the execution that is killing this team – the fundamentals just aren’t kept in mind on the field. A coach can only do so much if the players themselves are the ones tripping themselves.

  6. PA Trojan
    PA Trojan says:

    Agree with Tommy – I didn’t like Lane as the offensive coordinator under Pete, and I don’t like him now as the head coach. His play calling is suspect at best, downright terrible at worst. His coaching leaves a lot to be desired as well – the number of penalties USC has been committing is totally down to the coach enforcing discipline on the team. I understand he’s under extra pressure due to scholarship limitations, but that’s not enough of an excuse, especially for the personal fouls that are just borne out of stupid play. Hold, pass interference, those are understandable in tight games. Late hits, “targeting”, taunting, those types of penalties have no excuse, and the coach should punish the offenders.

  7. Tommy Trojan 71
    Tommy Trojan 71 says:

    How long will the Trojan Family put up with the Lame Kiffins?? Once again, Daddy Kiffin’s “defense” blows a lead and can’t make a key stop. Meanwhile, the “Boy Wonder” manages to waste the talents of Barkley and the heroics of Marquise Lee. I’m not sure what Pat Haden thinks is going to happen with this pitiful excuse for a coaching staff, but they should be on notice that the Men of Troy and the Trojan Family deserve more than this level of incompetence.

Comments are closed.