It was a record setting day for the Trojans’ defense. Unfortunately they were the kind of records that you don’t want to be known for. The Trojans gave up 730 total yards to the Ducks’ offense, breaking the previous record of 623 yards allowed to Notre Dame in 1946.
The defense allowed 61 points, which is more than the record set by Stanford last season. Kenjon Barner rushed for 321 yards, surpassing the 241 yards allowed to Curtis Ennis in 1996. Then there is a new record for allowing nine total touchdowns.
To put it mildly, the Trojans were horrific on defense.
The Ducks scored on nine of their 12 drives on Saturday, only punting once during the whole game. Oregon was able to do what they wanted and when they wanted to do it.
Barner and the Ducks were able to run free, without a Trojan defender in the picture for most of the night. It appeared that the Trojans neglected to incorporate how to defeat a cut block into their game preparation. The Trojans seemed unaware that the Ducks utilize the cut block to put defenders down and open running lanes for their ball carriers.
Not once did I see a defender use his hands to push the cut blocker down and use lateral motion to continue in pursuit. Instead they ended up face down every single time as the Ducks executed those cut blocks to perfection.
All night long, the Trojans were getting cut down like trees, leaving wide open lanes for the Ducks to run through.
It also appeared that no one instructed the Trojans’ cornerbacks on how to defeat a block. They seemed more intent on being blocked than getting off of blocks. The Ducks’ wide receivers were stalk blocking the Trojans’ corners all night. Not once did I see any of the corners defeat a block or set the edge to allow other defenders time to pursue to the ball.
The football IQ and/or preparation of the defense also needs to be called into question. There were many tells that the Ducks’ offense provided throughout the night based on formation and personnel groupings. These are things that are bread and butter for their offense so there was plenty of film on these things.
If the Ducks put trips to the field with De’Anthony as the No. 3 receiver and the No. 1 receiver in the formation is on the line, they were running a flare screen to Thomas. Instead of the defender attacking Thomas at the snap, the defender would take two steps up field and try to get into the throwing lane. The defender was also out of position by not lining up on Thomas, as they would split the difference between the tackle and the Thomas instead of lining up on him.
When the Ducks ran a stacked twins formation, Barner ran the ball to the side opposite of where he lined up. If he lined up to the right of the quarterback, the play was going to be run left. If he lined up to the left of the quarterback, the ball was going to be run right.
There was also a formation where Colt Lyerla would line up almost like a tight wing in the backfield between the guard and the tackle, and Barner would line up to the opposite side of the quarterback. At the snap of the ball, Lyerla would run across the formation very similar to a counter play. Barner would get the ball and run it to the where Lyerla was lined up pre-snap.
These plays were run with consistency throughout the game, but there seemed to be no adjustment by the defense when it was identified that their game plan was not working. The Trojans looked woefully unprepared on defense and that is something that you would never expect from a Monte Kiffin-led defense.
I have the utmost respect for Monte Kiffin, his resume speaks for itself. With that being said, it may be time to make a change. A more aggressive style of defense needs to be implemented. With so many college teams going to the spread and so many teams already in the conference that are currently using it, there needs to be someone brought in that knows how to game plan to stop it. There needs to be someone that can teach and enforce the fundamentals of tackling, defeating a cut block, proper pursuit angles, and diagnosing a play.
For USC, what happened on Saturday must never happen again.