“We’re here,” freshman safety Su’a Cravens said after USC’s 30-13 victory over Hawaii Thursday. “This is a new USC defense, the 2013 defense.”
We see you Su’a. We see this USC defense. The one that battered Hawaii with seven sacks and four interceptions, including the pick six that gave the Trojans a comfortable lead in what was an uncomfortable half.
The USC defense did not just come to play. They came to win. They were aggressive. They were mean. They were fired up.
The USC offense, on the other hand, was very much the offense of old. So much firepower wasted.
USC’s offense needs a Snickers. They’re kind of a buzzkill.
Lane Kiffin should look down the way at his defense and take some notes.
There is something to be said for holding back a bit in the first game of the season. Kiffin isn’t the first coach to employ the vanilla offense on the first day out, especially with a new quarterback. That vanilla offense is supposed to help the quarterback, but in USC’s case, it only hurt matters.
Cody Kessler was clearly more comfortable rolling out, yet play after play screens of both the bubble and non-bubble variety were called even though Hawaii sniffed them out with ease through out the night. USC seemed determined
Tre Madden ran the ball well enough in the first half, but running on third and long on multiple occasions only created more pressure for Kessler as the offense stalled again and again.
Kessler’s best throw of the night was the 19-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. That was also one of the few times USC looked to do anything aggressive with the passing game.
Aggression is the key here.
USC’s defense attacked the Hawaii offense. They imposed their will. When will the USC offense, with superior athletes across the board, start to consistently impose their will on defenses?
It was there in flashes. The touchdown to Agholor, the final drive of the half when Kessler found Marqise Lee on the simple drag and out routes that should have been USC’s bread and butter all game, and in the third quarter when Max Wittek complimented Justin Davis’ strong running with more mid-range throws to Lee.
By and large, however, the play selection fell flat. The overall offensive philosophy was wanting.
”Neither of them separated themselves and we didn’t help them very much,” said Kiffin of the QB battle. ”We didn’t help them and obviously that falls on me.”
Kiffin has consistently taken responsibility when things have gone wrong in his tenure as head coach. But it isn’t enough to say it. He needs to do something about it.
If Kessler is the guy, then play to his strengths. Get him out of the pocket. Let him make plays.
If Wittek is the guy, then take advantage of his arm. Throw down field. Let him make plays.
The receivers are there. Even with Lee’s struggles to hold onto the ball, he is too powerful a weapon to let go to waste. Agholor, too, is an impact player who must be given a chance to make an impact. Tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer may be the most underutilized talents in college football right now.
USC has a new defense, but it needs a new offense. One that takes it to opponents. One that lets the talent shine.
”We’ll go back and see – we’ve got nine days to figure it out,” Kiffin said.