What USC Trojan Fans Must Ponder After The Scream In Eugene


A day after USC’s defense embarrassed itself against the Oregon Ducks and now the Trojan faithful must ask itself some hard questions.

What the hell happened out there?

Was the Trojan defense truly that bad or was the Oregon Duck offense that good?

Or was it a combination of both?

Truth be told, this shouldn’t have come as a total surprise to anyone.

Even the most ardent Trojan fan knew that coming into this season, the Trojans had to replace nine starters from last years stalwart defensive unit.

When the season started, the predominant notion was that the offense was going to be good and the defense was going to take time to jell.

So the fact that USC’s defense is struggling shouldn’t be a revelation.

What is a surprise is how and when it is happening.

For the first five games of the season, the Trojan defense was good.

Damn good.

Top five in almost every defensive category, USC’s defense asserted itself right out of the gate and it seemed that they were only going to get better with defensive guru Pete Carroll at the helm.

Except that isn’t what happened.

What happened is that after those first five games, the defense took a step back.

Make that a leap.

Beginning in the second half of the Notre Dame game, continuing with the second half of the Oregon State game and blossoming to full ugliness against the Ducks, The Trojan defense suddenly has forgotten how to play fundamental football.

Gap responsibility, zone coverage and solid tackling are now just a concept for this beleagured unit.

After getting rolled by the Duck offense to the tune of 613 yards (613 yards? Good Lord), the luster is off this years version of the men of Troy.

This might be expected if it were the first or second game of the season and the inexperienced defense was just getting acclimated to the rigors of big time college football.

However, this is eighth game and reasonable expectations should be that this unit would be getting better instead of dramatically worse.

The fact that the defense is so bad should be a concern for both Pete Carroll and Trojan fans goes without saying.

But of deeper concern is the circumstances surrounding the deterioration of the defense.

We are at that time of the season when this unit should be fairly seasoned and finding ways to polish their efforts on the field.

Instead, the defense will be going back to square one and learning what the definition of fundamental tackling is.

There is still time for Coach Carroll to work his magic on this unit and salvage the rest of the season.

And Pete Carroll has earned the time to get it done.

For most college football fans, a 10-2 record and a berth in a lesser, but still significant, bowl would be a blessing.

For USC fans, it is lamentable.

Yet, good things can come from a resurrection of the defense that leads to a solid foundation for 2010, which is the year I personally thought would be the Trojans season for contention in the national championship.

This is unfamiliar ground for Trojan fans and they should not jump ship yet by any means.

But what happens from here on out will preface the story that will be told in 2010.

Good luck Pete.

Based on the scream in Eugene, you are going to need it.