Two Games For Redemption: What The USC Trojans Must Accomplish Now


As Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans migrate down an unfamiliar path, that being the road to mediocrity, there are still definitive goals that must be accomplished, both for this season, and perhaps more importantly, for the upcoming 2010 season.

The very same questions that unanswered have led to this disappointing season, are the same queries that beg clarity as the Trojans move forward.

Without these answers, Pete Carroll and his staff will find themselves staring at the same results that have led some of the Trojan faithful to wonder if the Pete Carroll era has run its course.

Some of these questions, such as the maturing of Matt Barkley, will only come with the playing of the game itself, while others are fundamentally more difficult, involving personnel and perhaps even schemes.

Bear in mind, many of these strategical dispostions will remain in a state of flux until players eligible for the NFL draft make decisions regarding their futures, while others, such as incoming recruits won’t be evident until the February 2 signing date arrives.

Here are some, but not all, of the questions that Pete Carroll and his staff needs to address in these final two games as well as the all important off season:


The defensive backfield will be the focus of a major overhaul.

Kevin Thomas, Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard are all seniors and will have to be replaced.

Shareece Wright, who was tabbed as a starting corner back until academic woes derailed him will be back assuming he has met his scholarly obligations.

The rest of the defensive backfield will come from a bevy of highly regarded but largely untested four and five star recruits.

Of greater concern if the defensive front seven, which has exponentially become more of a question mark as the season has wore on.

However, there are mitigating circumstances with that front seven that should be acknowledged.

For example, many among those who started the season so well are now injured or playing hurt.

Jurrel Casey and Everson Griffen are playing hurt as is the case with Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith at the linebacker positions.

For this reason, Devon Kennard, the highly regarded defensive end recruit and Shane Horton, a safety forced into linebacker duties both started for the Trojans and both were found to be lacking.

With two weeks off to heal, it is hoped that the Trojan defense will be demonstrably better against UCLA.

These next two games, against the Bruins and Arizona, should provide some clarity going into the 2010 season.


Some questions have already been answered.

Kristopher O’Dowd has gone on record that he will be back for his senior season.

This is huge for a unit that will graduate everyone except Tyron Smith around him.

Given the fact that the offensive line has, by and large, been a disappointment, now might be a good time to rotate some of the younger O-linemen like Kevin Graf, Khalid Holmes and Matt Kalil into the mix.

Meanwhile, there is also a very good chance that both Damien Williams and Ronald Johnson will also return.

Same with Joe McKnight who will be an important transition in the running game.

With a year under Matt Barkley’s belt, the offense has a chance to be as special as it was thought that this years unit could be.

If the Trojans sign the recruits that have verballed, including both outstanding wide receivers Kyle Prater and Robert Woods, they will have a very intriguing offense.

Special Teams:

The kickers will be back and they will welcome Matt Darr, a David Buehler clone who will make his presence felt immediately.

Special teams have not been a problem this year and they will only get better next year.

Don’t get me wrong. The Trojans should not give up this year to pave the road for 2010.

A 10-3 year (assuming they can win the final two games and their bowl game) is still damn good and something to strive for.

But there are better things on the horizon and Pete Carroll has the football acumen to deliver the best he can this year while preparing for next year.

At a charity dinner last night, Pete Carroll was asked if it was fair that Trojan fans are so spoiled that they would complain after one so-called “down year,” after seven straight good ones.

Pete responded that “Trojan fans SHOULD be spoiled. It is what we have worked for.”

Now is the time to set the table to spoil Trojan fans for years to come.