(That should read An ANALYSIS of USC v ASU but for some reason I can't edit the title)

Football Fiends, If I didn't know better, I’d have sworn we were looking at a Paul Hackett-coached USC team on Saturday in Tempe. We looked that bad. That undisciplined. That off the mark. Coverages were blown. Our vaunted speed on defense was nowhere to be seen. Our freshman-phenom QB looked like, well, a freshman QB...minus the phenom.

And don’t even get me started on the play calling.

If I were Pete Carroll (or Mike Garrett, as Carroll seems befuddled by this implosion of the mighty Trojans), I’d be taking Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Bates and Defensive Coordinator Rocky Seto out behind the proverbial woodshed.

3rd-and-15 and you call a running play? Are you freaking kidding me?

The USC offense continues to struggle on third downs, something USC fans have not seen in the offenses of the Pete Carroll era. However, in the past we’ve had guys like Norm Chow and Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian calling the plays. Remember? Remember when USC was explosive on offense? Remember when every single play called wasn’t a 2-4 yard running play?

By the way, what’s the deal with the revolving door of offensive coaches for the Trojans? And what the f--- is Bates’ issue? Has he not studied the type of offense the Trojans run?

This is not the NFL, we do not play to tie; This is not the Big Ten, we do not play safe, we do not play conservative.

Do that in the Pac-10 and you end up with two (or more) losses.

Saturday, the Trojans struggled on both sides of the ball.

Our offense has scored one touchdown in six quarters. Matt Barkley was 7-22 for 122 yards with one TD and one INT. USC had 12 first downs compared to ASU’s 23. We had 258 yards of total offense compared to ASU’s 347.

We passed for 122 yards, they passed for 266. We were 0-1 on fourth-down conversions, the Sun Devils were 2-3. ASU coughed up the ball four times and USC only capitalized on that once. Will Harris had an electric 55-yard interception return in the second quarter.

Make no mistake, ASU outplayed USC in just about every way.

In fact, for much of the fourth quarter, USC looked like it was doing its best to give the game away. This team is not hungry. Or it doesn’t have chemistry. Or both.

The Trojans no longer make the great second-half adjustments they’ve become known for. The offense is anemic. The defense is slow and seems to have forgotten how to tackle.

In short, this 2009 Trojan football team looks a whole hell-of-a-lot like 1998-99 Paul Hackett-coached Trojan football team.

Rebuilding is not a bad word. We’re so used to Pete Carroll just reloading year after year. We’re spoiled. We’re possibly the most spoiled fan base in NCAA football. This USC football team is a mystery. They seem to be getting worse as the season goes on, not better.

And next week we get Stanford. The Cardinal completely took apart Oregon on Saturday while we struggled with the Sun Devils.

The Cardinal soundly beat the Ducks 51-42. Maybe Oregon had a USC hangover. But I suspect USC’s defense is just incapable of stopping a mobile QB. We’ve seen it for YEARS. Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Oregon State in 2008. Washington and Oregon this year.

I am really afraid for this Stanford game.

USC is rebuilding. Just keep telling yourself that, Trojan fans. This is not the Hackett era. It just looks and feels a whole lot like it. And those were dark days. Dark days indeed.

-Your Gridiron Goddess


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