USC Football Roundtable: Is Arizona’s Late Comeback Cause For Concern

October 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback B.J. Denker (7) throws the ball against the defense of Southern California Trojans safety Dion Bailey (18) during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

USC got an important win over Arizona last Thursday but it wasn’t without some late drama. The Wildcats scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to come within a touchdown of forcing overtime. Thanks to some clutch running from Silas Redd, they never got the chance.

We asked the Reign Of Troy staff is that comeback is cause for concern for USC going forward:

Trenise Ferreira:

Considering how the USC defense has given up 542 and 508 yards, respectively to ASU and U of A, the late come back is absolutely a concern. Clancy Pendergast and his unit started the season strong, but as the competition has gotten tougher, their performance has declined. THe D-line is still playing lights-out on a weekly basis, but the secondary is once again becoming an area for concern. Granted, some of that is due to injury: three of USC’s four cornerbacks have been battling injuries over the past few weeks, making it difficult to field a top-notch defense.

If the Trojans are able to go into South Bend and build a lead, they will not be able to afford another late-game collapse of the defense. Notre Dame is a much better team than Arizona, and USC might not be able to hold off a late attack from the Irish so easily.

Matthew Moreno:

Arizona’s comeback is cause for some concern.  What I’m unsure of is, was it a result of USC taking a sigh of relief or ArIzona converting plays that they were on the brink of completing for much of the game? I don’t think Arizona changed all that much.  If anything, they were simply running plays at a slightly faster pace.

Regardless, it should be used as a teaching moment.  You can’t relax until the clock hits 0:00.

Josh Webb:

Any late comeback is cause for concern. It’s whether or not that was the biggest concern entering this game that really matters. The biggest concern for USC was to see if this defense could get back on track and if the offense could do anything without Lee. Not only did the offense do something without Lee, they’ve probably had one of their best games since before Lee even thought of coming to USC.

Now, USC has obviously had better statistical games, but it seemed pretty universal that USC was back to doing USC things in the last game. For most people, that was their primary concern before kickoff. You can only fix a couple things at once without overwhelming the kids in a coaching change. The Trojans did exactly what they needed to do. If this happens a second time, we’ll address it then.

Alicia de Artola:

My biggest concern regarding the Arizona comeback is that leads, even big one, may not be safe with a defense that’s as thin as USC’s. They did nearly everything right in the first half, which was comforting to see. However, the questions about the secondary just got louder and louder and BJ Denker found his receivers far too easy late in the game.

Two things that don’t make sense, but luckily are fixable problems, were the lack of rotation in the defense and the risks taken late in the game when something more akin to prevent would have been more advisable. Orgeron said that he and Clancy Pendergast are working on fixing the rotation, which should keep defenders more fresh late in games. The second issue can only be solved by Pendergast recognizing the right times to let his players in the secondary be aggressive and the right times to have them play it safe. He got that balance wrong on Thursday. Hopefully he uses that as a learning experience for them.

Topics: Roundtable, USC Trojans

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  • Ben Factor

    Alicia, I hope it’s as easy as you say…but I doubt it. They don’t have enough talent at DB, and rotation only works if everyone can play. Unfortunately, that is not my impression.

    I do expect improved play at safety, because the talent is there, and they are teachable players.

    • Alicia de Artola

      It might not fix it completely (we’ll still give up big plays so long as guys keep miss timing their jumps and whiffing on the ball), but I think the secondary is certainly capable of more than we saw in the last two games.