Notre Dame 20, USC 16


10 thoughts on a harsh senior night...

  • For the most part, I try to keep the blog fair and (relatively) impartial.  However, what separates this space from others that cover USC is that I get a chance to know these young men.  Ronald Johnson is as good a man as you will ever want to meet.  He dropped a ball on the final USC drive that would have changed the outcome of the game.  He felt the cruel reality of sports tonight just as the Boise State kicker did yesterday.  I feel for him and the Trojan family should support a senior, who did it the right way for four years.
  • "It's just part of the game.  You drop balls," said Mitch Mustain about the unforgettable play.  "That one probably would've changed the outcome, but it doesn't matter.  I don't know if there's a worse feeling than that." 
  • As for the play of the first time starter at quarterback, Mustain was reined in most of the night.  "Obviously, we played pretty conservative," said Lane Kiffin about the gameplan.  The head coach's plan was to avoid negative plays like sacks and turnovers.  Mustain was never sacked and the Trojans were +4 in turnovers until the game-clinching interception.  "If we execute and do our role and our part, we win the game," said Mustain, who applauded Kiffin's plan despite his natural urge to cut it loose.
  • Kiffin had trouble assessing Mustain's performance due to the swing nature of the one big play.  "We're talking about him being a hero if we catch that ball," said Kiffin.  "He was a little shaky early, but I thought he settled down."
  • The defense's performance is hard to label as well.  They willed the team back into the game behind a ferocious rally, including three turnovers, which set up all 13 second half points.  All the sudden, they were jumping nearly every pass play like they were in the Irish huddle.  "We knew what they were doing the whole time," said safety Marshall Jones.  "We made our adjustments and we were right with it." 
  • Jones was forced to play next to walk-on Tony Burnett after T.J. McDonald injured his shoulder (likely a separation, according to Kiffin) on the first series.  Burnett had run track at USC, but this is his first season playing football.  "Tony did great," said Jones.  "At first, I was a little shaky, but he came in making tackles, making plays."
  • While the defense was mostly positive, they could not keep Notre Dame from powering down the field on the game-winning drive.  "If you can't finish, none of that matters," said LB Chris Galippo about the good things the defense did most of the night.  Kiffin turned it on the offense though for putting the D in that position.  "You can't let people keep hanging around," said the head coach.
  • If things had worked out differently, Manti Te'o and Michael Floyd could have been wearing cardinal and gold tonight.  Both players were looked at as future Trojans, but chose Notre Dame at the crucial moment of asking.  Te'o was everywhere tonight and Floyd hauled in 11 receptions.  Kiffin and Ed Orgeron know as well as anyone in this business that February results set the table for November glory.
  • At halftime, I asked senior associate athletic director J.K. McKay what his record was against Notre Dame as a Trojan wideout.  He was 2-1.  Plus, he pointed out the winner of the game went on to win the national championship all three seasons.  In the big picture, both these programs have a ways to go to return the rivalry to what it was.
  • USC had another big night on special teams, headlined by senior Joe Houston's career performance.  He made all three field goals, including a 45-yarder, which was the first time he was successful from 40+ yards.  As you can see for yourself below, he had no interest in talking about his individual success...


Yeah, can't be mad at RoJo. Carswell dropped one earlier in the drive that looked like at least a 30 yard gain, and would've given the Trojans much more time to finish that drive. Cameron dropped a crucial 3rd down conversion in the 1st half that likely would have resulted in points. Even RoWo had a bad penalty on a big gainer. The entire offense just looked out of synch, or playing not to lose rather than win.

USC was not ready to play ...plain and simple. After the embarrassment of last week, and being 7-4, there is no reason not to be sky high for the ND game tonight. I lay that on the feet of Kiffin and the staff.

No excuses. The offense was horrible tonight. Mustain showed why he has been the back-up since arriving. The O-Line was man-handled yet again. Getting four turnovers in ND territory and those were your only scores all night. All 16 points were result of the takeaways......hate to see what would have happened had ND not had a Frosh QB.

Both Kiffins were completely out coached again, and the Trojans lose to an inferior team.

USC is not good right now, and it has only gotten worse as the season has gone on. Makes me very scared to see what will happen the next few years when the full weight of the sanctions really hit.

Fred makes an interesting point that I hear many pessimistic fans make. The sanctions haven't "hit" yet, and things will just get worse.

IMO, the worst of the sanctions is behind us. First, we've had a dark cloud over the program for the last 4 years. We lost some recruits from the negative buzz. Then, the sanctions came and they were far worse than anyone expected. We lost a few more critical recruits after the announcement. Now, we are actually experiencing sanctions - no bowl, and open transfers for upper classmen. Several backups transferred.

So, you see Fred, we have suffered substantially from the sanctions to date. When the scholie reductions take place in coming years, USC will actually have MORE players than we have today (about 70 scholie players). And, we only have 1 more bowl-less season in front of us, at worst. Plus, the cloud is dissipating over the program.

Things will only get better after Lane and Ed get to bring in some new recruits, not worse.

Mustain's comment is interesting. I vividly recall what Coach Larry Smith said following the loss to Fresno State in the Anaheim's "Nothing Bowl." He stated, "It takes more than a band and a mascot to win.

He was immediately fired for making that comment. Fans didn't want to hear that "win some - lose some" attitude.

First of all you need to take a chill pill. It's people like you, these bleeding heat liberals that take everything literally, and want actions for comments that did not deter the outcome of the game or nor did they harm anyone. So just stop looking for conterversy, and let it go.

Let's see, Tyler 17 carries for 48 yards. CJ 7-19.
How is it that Allen Bradford can't even get on the field?

I couldn't believe Johnson dropped a pass that a junior high receiver could make in his sleep. I've never seen such a choke job. But he wasn't the only reason we lost.

It was painful to watch that game. So many dropped passes. So many uninspired runs. So many holding or illegal blocking penalties. So many missed tackles. So many times when the defense got pushed around. So many chances at interceptions that became simple incompletions (or even, in one instance, a TD for Notre Dame). So many head-scratching play calls.

And worst of all, it seemed like the players just weren't into the game, for much of it.

All this against a banged-up ND team that was playing on the road with a freshman QB.

Notre Dame can't even beat NAVY, for God's sake.


I don't understand why Monte Kiffin is there. His Tampa-2 defense clearly doesn't work. Maybe his son doesn't have the stones to say "Dad, we need something more productive than this bend-and-also-break" defense.

I also don't understand why Barkley couldn't play. He hurt his ankle. Brett Favre BROKE his ankle in two places yet still plays, and he's twice Barkley's age.

You can lose to Oregon. You can lose to Stanford. You can even lose to an Oregon State team that couldn't beat Washington State. But you cannot lose to Notre Dame.

This has nothing to do with sanctions. It has to do with coaching acumen and player desire. If we can't put on a better show than this, we don't deserve to have fans, much less a bowl game, for the next two years.

I'm not angry at the players. I'm very pissed at the coaching staff for not properly and effectively coaching & prepping the players. Four losses (Washington, Stanford, Oregon State and now Notre Dame) all lost due to the poor performance of the coaching staff. Perhaps Lane Kiffen should bench his entire coaching staff. Both sides of the ball performed poorly this year.

What ever happened to Pete Carroll's mantra?
These guys were there......
Do you win it in the 1st quarter? NO!
Do you win it in the 2nd quarter? NO!
Do you win it in the 3rd quarter? NO!
You win the game in the 4th quarter!!!!!!

Seems everyone else SC has played this year goes by that mantra, but our team. Even when we've won the game, we've allowed the opponent's to score.

I'm concerned & worried that UCLA is going to win the game next week; they are ready to strike the heartbeat killing blow to an already wounded Trojan team, AND that my friends is totally unacceptable. Mark my words, and that will be very painful. Neuheisal cannot beat us next week. CANNOT!!!! You hear me Coach?

Randy, you make a great point. Bradford should have been given a chance. Kiffin's rule of benching a runner once they fumble is completely ridiculous.

In addition, it seemed to me that the coaching staff was so focused on exceeding 160 rushing yards (the so called "magic" number for ND) that they forgot to use Mitch both in passing and especially in his ability to scramble. Kiffin's conservative game plan early on never allowed Mitch and the rest of the team to get into any type of rhythm. On the other hand, ND's coach allowed their freshman quarterback to open the game up... yes he had turnovers.... but they also won the game. I guess we can say that SC's conservative game plan led to a conservative loss.

All the MM QBs could have done better, huh? Do you remember that PC's team took a major nosedive last season? Are you aware that we only have an active roster of just over 55 scholie players (low roster pre-sactions due to poor recruiting and NCAA cloud, NCAA free agency sanctions, red shirts, "cleaning house" suspensions).

Here's a newsflash. We just got hit with the worst sanctions since SMU. We have a new AD and a new business model at HH. And, we have a new coaching staff who have been told to clean house.

This might be the biggest transition year in USC football history. Yet, we have the best staff in America and things will only improve from here.

Yes, RoJo should have caught that ball, but the missed catch is in no way representative of him as a player. No one can be expected to have a perfect game 100% of the time. The offense's problems went way beyond just one receiver.

Interesting to hear StephenofTroy's offer to break his tibia and fibula, then demonstrate his ability to run a 5K the following week. Go for it, Stephen! Let me know how it turns out.

USCDPT1, where did you leave your reading comprehension glasses?

I never "offered" to break anyone's tibia or fibula (neither of which is anywhere near the ANKLE, genius!), nor did I say anything about running a 5k.

Have you ever seen Barkley run? Me neither. He stands in the pocket to throw. So does Favre. Favre can play with a broken ankle. Why can't Barkley play with a high ankle sprain? He was dressed for the game. If he was dressed for the game, the coaches thought he was physically able to perform.

If you think standing in the pocket to throw a football is anything like running a five kilometer race, I would like to ask if you think being able to see Russia from your house gives you foreign policy experience.

I agree 100% Randy. Seems like he is the only one that gets put in the dog house for turning the ball over. It would be different if Baxter was lighting the field up.

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