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Oregon 53, USC 32

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10 thoughts from the sideline and locker room...

  • Three plays determined the direction of this game.  With the lead and the ball near midfield, a "miscommunication" between Matt Barkley, Kris O'Dowd and Lane Kiffin led to an unexpected snap and an unforced error.  Down a dozen, Jurrell Casey's ricochet interception off a Wes Horton deflection gave the Trojans belief when their confidence was fading.  After a Coliseum shaking rally put USC up 32-29, the Ducks converted a 3rd and 13 for a 30-yard TD pass to the seemingly invisible Jeff Maehl.  Three plays, three dramatic momentum swings.
  • Stat of the night: 3rd down conversions.  USC was 8/17 picking up 3rd downs, while the Ducks were 11 of 17.  It was even worse before the final meaningless drives.  "We did a terrible job on third down," Kiffin said about the offense.  The coach pinpointed that stat as the primary factor in the loss.
  • As I said in my Friday keys, time of possession is a meaningless stat to the Ducks.  At the end of the day, USC controlled the ball for five more minutes than Oregon, but it was the Trojans who looked far more tired in the 4th quarter, particularly offensively.  The Trojans ran 85 offensive plays, which seemed to stretch them beyond their physical capacity against an Oregon defense in prime condition.  "He's done a phenomenal job of building his team for speed and conditioning," Kiffin said of Chip Kelly, whose team is famous for dominating the final quarter on both sides of the ball.
  • The defense played well at times, but they still gave up 599 yards and 53 points.  "We have to play a complete game," said Shareece Wright, who was happy with the defense's performance in the 1st and 3rd quarters, but not the 2nd and 4th.  "We thought we were not tired and we tried to be tough guys and stay in the game, but we have to come out when we're tired.  I feel like they executed their plays to perfection."
  • USC's offense did not live up to the standard that it had set in the last month.  "I thought our offense was terrible today and obviously, that starts with me," Kiffin said after the game.  While the head coach has been praised for his play-calling most of the season, he was questioned about the 3rd and 5 pitch play to Stanley Havili, which did not work in the 4th quarter or earlier in the game.  "Are you saying it wasn't a very good call?" Kiffin joked with the reporter.  "Kennedy Pola called that one."  (He was kidding.)
  • Kiffin has not lost his sense of humor.  Penalties were once a forbidden topic this season around Heritage Hall, but the Trojans dominated the discipline battle tonight committing only three infractions to Oregon's eight.  "You found something positive!" Kiffin said to a young reporter who pointed it out.  "I appreciate you.  That's the only thing we did good."
  • Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods are two dynamic playmakers, but the Trojans receiving corps lacks a physical presence, which became apparent tonight.  The Ducks gameplan in the secondary was clearly to punish RoJo and Woods, who gallantly took their beating in exchange for catches and yards.  Nevertheless, particularly on Barkley's two interceptions, it was obvious that USC does not have that "beast" like Mike Williams, who will wrestle the ball away from a defender or go up and get a jump ball.
  • The lack of certainty at running back finally bit the Trojans tonight as well.  Marc Tyler is obviously the starter, but he disappointed the coaches with a hesitant run in a short yardage situation in the first half.  When he went in the doghouse, Stanley Havili became the primary option with Allen Bradford sidelined, Dillon Baxter out of the mix and C.J. Gable recuperating from a knee bruise.  Tyler got back in and found success, but every time the offense got one-dimensional, Oregon turned on the pass rush.
  • Oregon is different under Chip Kelly.  While they have been explosive for awhile now, they are much tougher than previous versions.  Darron Thomas is an ordinary quarterback if you force him to be a pocket passer, but LaMichael James is the real deal.  He has a tremendous center of gravity, which allows him to bounce almost like a mosquito.  From the field level, he had the quickest feet that I have seen in person.  Like their entire offense, James waits for a defensive breakdown and exploits it in an instant.
  • Statistically, Thomas was impressive as well, but the touchdown passes were all on complete coverage breakdowns.  "We did not read our keys and we got fooled on play-action," said Jawanza Starling, who is usually tasked with policing center field.  "We were well prepared.  There was not anything that we could not handle."  While everyone talks about Oregon's speed, WR Jeff Maehl would not be favored to win a footrace against any member of the Trojans secondary, but he happened to shake free for eight catches, 145 yards and three TDs.
  • You can watch Lane Kiffin's press conference on USCTrojans.com plus media sessions with Shareece Wright and Matt Barkley, but I thought Ronald Johnson was a fitting player to wrap up the night.  Without hearing him say it, you can see how much effort he put into tonight.




6 Comments

Fight on, RoJo!

Kiffin needs to step it up and take chances on 4 and 1.

Rojo got hit pretty hard in the 3 quarter. wish him well recovering.

Barkley needs to throw some bullets while in the red zone.

It was a good emotional game.

Beat the Sun Devils.

Hey Jurrell Casey...when you said (the other day) that the Ducks weren't really that good, that they only had two good players...I think you left out Maehl....I think he pretty good too. No? What your thoughts?

Right on, Jay--that conservative game plan did not work out. More chances on 4th which also give players more confidence. Fight on!

Well, we did go for it twice on 4th in the 2nd half and failed to convert. We passed almost 70% of the plays.

I love the MMQBs whining about play calling. Kiff is the best in the game. The fact is that Oregon has a hell of a defense. Our 32 points and 27 1st downs was actually a great effort against the Ducks.

1. USC doesn't have a physical receiver? What about David Ausberry? What about Kyle Prater, who could be playing right now? And the comment about Mike Williams is revisionist. He rarely 'wrestled' the ball away from guys because he was usually wide open in his routes.

2. The Jeff Maehl reference was ignorant. He was a track guy in high school and he would indeed beat 3 out of 4 of USC's secondary starters in a foot race.

3. The point of Oregon's system is not to have a pocket passer, which is why their system is so great. The Darron Thomas comment is off base in that sense.

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