There is only one word to describe USC’s loss to UCLA Saturday night: Embarrassing.
“We need to coach better and we need the play better, in-game,” Steve Sarkisian said in the post game press conference.
He might as well have said this:
November 22, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian watches game action against the UCLA Bruins during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
USC needs to do everything better.
The quarterback needs to play better.
The offensive line needs to block better.
The receivers need to catch better.
The running backs need to hit the hole better.
The defensive line needs to attack better.
The linebackers need to tackle better.
The secondary needs to cover better.
But most of all. The coaches do need to coach better.
Their jobs are on the line.
Justin Wilcox is replaceable. In fact, there’s a man sitting at home right now who could step in at any moment.
It’s the specter of that man — Ed Orgeron — who looms large over both Sarkisian and his defensive coordinator.
Sarkisian is not so replaceable. Firing the head coach is not a decision that should come lightly. Nor should it come in the immediate aftermath of such an emotionally-charged loss.
However, the emotions on display during and after the drubbing at the hands of UCLA should not be ignored either.
Former players vented on social media almost as much as fans did. No one is pleased with the performances Sarkisian has coaxed out of his team in year one as a whole.
Sarkisian’s seat is heating up. That cannot be ignored.
Is it too early to be considering a coaching change? Probably.
It is unfair? Not when the Trojans are 7-4 and boast just one quality win, thanks to a missed field goal by Arizona, to go along with victories over a slew of inferior opponents and an underachieving Stanford.
UCLA was projected as a litmus test.
Were narrow losses to Arizona State and Utah just the luck of the draw? Or was USC really just a middle-of-the-pack team with no ambitions beyond bowl eligibility.
The Trojans and Sarkisian failed the test.
Outplayed by the Bruins in nearly every way, the more jarringly conclusion from the game was that USC was soundly outcoached.
Brett Hundley and the UCLA offense took what they wanted against Justin Wilcox’s defense. Wide open receivers, cushion on the outside and sheer confusion left the Trojan defense as vulnerable as it has been all season.
On the offensive side of the ball, it looked like the Bruins had gotten a hold of Sarkisian’s playbook. They knew exactly what was coming, when it was coming and how to stop it.
Nelson Agholor was shut down, Buck Allen was a non-factor, Cody Kessler was reduced to nothingness.
Orgeron was denied the permanent job because of losses to UCLA and Notre Dame.
USC’s ambitions were said to be greater than Ed “16-27 as a head coach” Orgeron.
Are they greater than Steve “Seven-Win” Sarkisian, which is what the Trojans have gotten this season.
Sarkisian has a loss to UCLA and a date with Notre Dame looming in a week.
We’ll see how hot his seat is after that meeting.