…the offensive line comes back with confidence, not fear. The offensive line didn’t just have an awful game against Stanford, in the second half they played scared. It was a worst-case scenario facing a strong Stanford front seven with Cyrus Hobbi, a red-shirt freshman center making his first career start on the road, instead of veteran senior Khaled Holmes or even red-shirt senior back up Abe Markowitz. Add to that the inexperience of sophomore left tackle Aundrey Walker, who missed most of fall camp, and in hindsight there was clearly trouble brewing.
This week against Cal there are still be some question marks. Holmes may be available to start which will ease some pressure off of Barkley in pre-snap duties, but how the veteran will handle playing on a bum ankle? If he can’t go, will Markowitz be able to produce better results despite limited experience himself? On the left side, it’s likely that Walker will keep his starting place despite Kiffin opening up competition with freshman Max Tuerk. Will Walker respond to the challenge or will he fall victim to pressure once more?
Despite those questions, one thing remains certain: playing scared again will result in disaster. If the Trojan front line can bounce back mentally, they’ll be half way to victory.