Joey Kaufman and Jimmy Burke hosted another edition of Troy Talk today at 5 pm (PDT). Troy Talk is a Twitter conversation among USC fans that uses the hashtag #troytalk and is highly participatory. It focuses mainly on USC football and attempts to foster discussion amongst Trojans from around the Twitterverse. Here are the topics that were discussed and some thoughts on them.
TOPIC 1- Outside of the scoreline, the biggest number of Saturday’s game was 130: the penalty yardege for SC? What’s wrong?
Part of the anxiety has to be due to playing at home for the first time. At the start of the game, the crowd was fired up and the Trojans seemed rather tense. Early on they had too many false starts and that really put them behind the 8-ball. The main problem was with the holding penalties. Unfortunately, Virginia’s defensive line was able to overpower the USC’s offensive line and it led to numerous holding calls that negated gains. The number is slightly inflated because of the 15 yard penalty at the end against Ellison. It’s also important to take into account that one of the late hits “out of bounds” and the targeting call were both questionable. Nevertheless, the Trojans need to stay disciplined and avoid drawing these flags. Two third down conversions were wiped out against Hawaii due to penalties and USC found itself with long distances to travel for the first down. It’s hard to establish a rhythm offensively when the line is holding every third play.
TOPIC 2- Definitely a dropoff offensively. Yes, Barkley looked good, but some definite questions marks at OL & RB. What’s up?
Marc Tyler didn’t have great stats, but I liked the way he ran last night. There were a handful of runs where he fought forward for extra yards after he appeared he would be stopped. He may have been tentative at times, but he’s an aggressive north to south runner and thats the kind of back USC needs.
As for the line, that has to be a concern. The main reason Tyler was ineffective is that the Cavs beat the line off the ball and there weren’t very many holes to run through. This was this first true test for the hog-mollies and they didn’t handle it well. Barkley was on the run all night and the receivers didn’t have much time to get open. USC has talent on the offensive line so they should improve heading forward.
Barkley threw some beautiful passes, but he also failed to lead a receiver that had daylight on a few occasions. Regardless, he has been the most consistent player on this team so far, with Robert Woods a close second.
TOPIC 3- Big question going into yesterday was the defense. Do we have an answer? Was it better or was UVA too easy to test it?
Virginia’s offense isn’t anything special, but you have to love the way the defense came out last night after being abused in Hawaii. After the Barkley fumble, the defense held its ground and forced an interception in the end zone. There was significant improvement from last week and that is all you can ask for. Sure, Virginia moved the ball a little bit, but it’s unrealistic to expect the defense to hold teams under 100 yards and constantly force three-and-outs. Excluding the final drive where they played prevent defense, the defense looked more polished. They did miss a few tackles, but not nearly as many as last week. Nickell Robey had a bit of a rough start at cornerback but shined in the second half. The true tests will come against Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona, but for now the defense did its part. Credit them for limiting Virginia enough to win the game on a night where the offense sputtered.
TOPIC 4- Oregon and Stanford both looked good yesterday. A lot of USC fans are already checking two losses. Are you worried?
There has to be a little bit of worry on the minds of all Trojan fans. One could argue that there is a bit of role reversal going on right now. Last year, Oregon struggled in their first two games while USC looked superior. Despite the starts, the Ducks went on to win the Pac-10. This year, the Ducks are riding high and USC fans are worried about the team’s consistency.
The main thing to keep in mind is that we are in September. There is still plenty of time for USC to improve and work on becoming more consistent and disciplined. With each week, I expect this brilliant coaching staff to build on the successes of the previous week and improve weaknesses. Right now, USC is breaking in a new coach, and that doesn’t happen over night. Be thankful that the schedule sets up with four cupcakes early and then a home game against a Washington that hasn’t won on the road since 2007.
While there is time, I am still worried. Oregon routed Tennessee in Knoxville, and Stanford beat up on a weak UCLA team yesterday. Both teams have shown the ability to light up the scoreboard. Despite the improvement on defense, I am not convinced the team is ready physically or mentally for such formidable attacks. If USC had to play Oregon or Stanford this coming Saturday (you might be able to throw Cal and Arizona into this mix), I would have reservations about USC being able to win. However, the season can change on a dime, and I look forward to these match-ups down the road. To be the best you have to beat the best. I trust in Lane Kiffin to have his players prepared down the road.
TOPIC 5- Basic thoughts/predictions/hopes/fears going into next week?
USC should come out and offensively destroy Minnesota. The Golden Gophers gave up 41 points in a loss at home to South Dakota. South Dakota! Matt Barkley should have his way and Tyler will be poised for a game like he had against Hawaii. Furthermore, the defense will be tested, but should continue the progress it posted this week. Monte Kiffin will make the necessary adjustments and create schemes that stifle Minnesota.
I hope this team comes out with some pent up frustration from a dismal performance yesterday and executes flawlessly. The best scenario would be an explosive offense and a stingy defense. In the first two games, we have seen one or the other. Seeing USC put together an A game in all phases would be a big morale boost to a fan base that was so displeased that many left after the 3rd quarter yesterday.
The main thought here is that USC has been given a gift with scheduling. All of these early season games are perfect tune-ups to work out kinks and be ready to come out firing when the back-loaded schedule gets rough. USC may be ranked 18, but there is only one important figure to consider. 2-0. Yes, the Men of Troy have an unblemished record. At the end of the day, that’s how a team should ultimately be measured.