USC Football Roundtable: Can USC Turn Orgeron’s Fun into Momentum on the Field?


Sep 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans linebacker Hayes Pullard (10) leads players onto the field before the game against the Boston College Eagles at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Boston College 35-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As USC prepares for it’s first game without Lane Kiffin as head coach, Trojan fans have turned to Ed Orgeron as a sort of Messiah for the struggling program. With his early changes, mostly geared towards making the business of playing for USC more fun, Orgeron has injected a positive morale that has been lacking for much of this season. Coach O has generated positive vibes in the media because he’s opened practice. He’s drawn out clear elation of the starters getting a day off to coach the back ups in the “Trojan Bowl. But is that enough to get wins on Saturday (or Thursdays as it may be)?

The Reign of Troy staff has some opinions on that…

Trenise Ferreira (@TreniseFerreira) :

I say yes. Coach Orgeron in one week has seemingly already done what Lane Kiffin could not do in three years: get the players on his side. He’s done a few things–like bring back cookies to training table and hold competitive, physical practices–that have put him in good graces with the players already. The media also seems to be pleased with him, and for now, they’re on his side too, which eliminates a number of outside distractions. With all the working for him, Coach Orgeron can motivate this team to play for him, another thing we really didn’t see under Kiffin, and a sentiment that will go a long way in determining how this season plays out for the Trojans.

Josh Webb (@FightOnTwist):

Can they? Yes. Will they? I think that question is a bit bigger than CEO. Depth and injuries are what is hurting this team. There’s no doubt that these guys are capable of using this momentum to win some games, but the long-term success of this team is really a weekly thing. Each week the Trojans seem to lose a big name to an injury. These injuries are already adding up.

Orgeron may have the team in a much better mental place, but there’s little CEO can do to keep the bodies from piling up on the sidelines.

Matthew Moreno:

I think USC can and likely will respond with plenty of energy on Thursday against the Wildcats.  They’ve been under an extremely critical microscope this season, it’s the first Thursday night home game, and Coach O seems to have everyone on the team behind him, that you would think the only way to go is up.

However, I”m not sure if the newly found “fun” will translate into sustained momentum on the field.  USC still has injury and depth concerns.  If Orgeron could quickly heal all the ailing bodies, then I would be willing to completely buy into the question.

By the same token, I would not be surprised to see USC win their next two games and turn that momentum into a strong finish to the season.  Of course should that happen, it could be argue it was due in large part to Orgeron’s arrival.

I’m not trying to play both sides of the fence with my answer, but with the way the season has gone thus far, nothing would surprise me.

Andie Hagemann (@AndieHagemann):

Since Coach Ed Orgeron was appointed interim head coach, the practice environment has changed drastically. The change is also evident in the responses that players give the media in post-practice interviews. “Fun”, “flying around”, and “electric” are used abundantly. In addition, the team looks genuinely happy. Perhaps, that maybe be from the increase of sugar to their diets. I believe that Coach O has turned around the team or at least the team’s morale.

Players have remarked that Coach O is allowing them to let loose in practice and play more freely. Some of the same comments were made when Clancy Pendergast joined the staff earlier this year. Rather than playing in over-complicated schemes, the team is playing within its comfort zone, something completely different than years past. The team clearly possesses the talent, energy and chemistry were the missing pieces to the puzzle. Under Coach Orgeron, the energy from practice should translate to the field, much like during the Carroll era.

George Dulcich:

I really do think Coach O is taking the right approach with his fun attitude. I think a lot of the times we forget football is a game and it is meant to be fun. These kids are all playing the sport because they love it and Coach O is reminding them of that.

Fun little things in practice like the scout team Trojan Bowl they had last week are great for the morale. It builds team chemistry and they can just focus on football. Coach O is doing a great thing and handling the situation very well. I wouldn’t trust anyone else but him in this situation.

Alicia de Artola (@PenguinOfTroy):

I can only hope that Coach O’s emphasis on fun results in wins because this bye week has been an awesome change of pace. Even though they’d never admit it, it became clear after the Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech that the issues surrounding Lane Kiffin were affecting the team negatively. As the pressure mounted on Kiffin to produce results, the players were the ones who felt the weight of the those demands. With Orgeron, that weight has been lifted. No one expects much of USC this season anymore, just like 2011 when playing with nothing to lose helped the Trojans immensely. Coach O is tapping into that by energizing the players with fun practices and things to get happy about off the field as well (like cookies).

So much of football is mental, I think the power of positive morale can only be good for the Trojans. So yes, I think Orgeron’s changes will make a difference during games. It might not be enough to power USC past the big challenges like Stanford, UCLA or Notre Dame. However, it will be the difference in the closer match ups like this week against Arizona and late on when USC faces Oregon State and Utah.

What do you think? Can USC Turn Orgeron’s Fun into Momentum on the Field?