The prospect of successfully illustrating the 2012 USC Football season without resorting to hyperbole and apologies could have been far more effortless had they marched into the Sun Bowl and handled the NCAA-exemption participants from Atlanta. Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets decided that their invitation did not determine the value of their team, much like the preseason did not accurately measure the value of the Trojans. In a game that could have featured a marquee quarterback auditioning for the scouts as a draft prospect, Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington stepped into the vacant spotlight, as Matt Barkley was not cleared to play. Washington threw and ran for TD in a 21-7 New Year’s Eve reminder that USC fans did not want as the clock approached midnight on a 7-6 season.
Max Wittek opened the spring competition door for incoming prep sensation Max Browne as he threw for 107 yards and 3 INTs. His lone TD to Silas Redd, who added 88 yards on the ground, tied the game in the 2nd quarter, but the game eventually got away from him. Marqise Lee and Robert Woods only combined for 9 catches for 41 and 33 yards respectively. USC produced a meager 209 total yards of offense, a clear indication that a dramatic shift in either strategy or personal looms on the horizon.
The USC defense managed an encore lackluster performance before the calendar shift by giving up 369 total yards, 294 on the ground against the triple-option. Hopefully, the Trojans will address their obvious issues with option offenses and find a way to stop teams from dominating them. Even though hope springs eternal, this spring’s camp will require some serious musing over how to shore up the recent inability to stop the run.
As the 2013 season shimmers in the distance, unspoiled and effervescent, USC reloads for a return to expected glory. As easy as placing this past season in the rear view mirror and focusing on the future may be, it behooves the fan to recall the specifics of inadequacy throughout the 2012 campaign. If they repeat themselves in this fresh start of a New Year, then a sudden rush of memories might overwhelm and fans will once again reach for the Alka Seltzer. Yet, if the Trojans shake off this troublesome year and win again, then the disappointment will fade into a sure agreement it was all a fluke, a bad dream that made the team stronger for it in the end.