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Cotton Bowl | Thoughts & Observations

Clearly not the outcome we sought.  The Trojans had all the potential to show up in Arlington, TX and proclaim a seat at the table.  Now this table was not in the main room but heck neither was Ohio State’s seat.  One team came out focused and ready and the other came out ⅔’s ready.  This stuff happens.  It’s why we play the games and let the media decide in advance what will happen based on indirect and sometimes direct insider information leading up to big games.  We expect more from our teams and we always will but let’s explore last nights effort as there was clearly some good to go along with some disappointing efforts.

Clancy Pendergast clearly prepared.  The USC Defense shut down Ohio State for the majority of the game.  But, tOSU scored 24 points you say?  Yes they did off how many turnovers?  You can’t expect to shut down an offense like Ohio State’s with so many cupcake starts resulting from ill timed turnovers.  By the way, is there a good time for a turnover?  USC’s defense completely shut down OSU from the second quarter on.  The statistics (forgetting the TO’s for a moment) will show that USC out gained and out played OSU in the air but not on the ground.  Total yardage was clearly in USC’s court but the scoreboard and the turnovers were not.  Thats all that matters.  Turn the ball over and its goodbye dreams and see ya next year.

USC’s defense was lights out for most of the 60 minutes.  This was a top 10 offensive unit with a very healthy lineup.  USC should hold its head high on the defensive side while the offense needs think about the basics.  We can all look at the game and replay it in our minds.  We can do the what-if’s all day long.  It’s hard to let go when you care. This is our Team.  Our passion.  The offense wasn’t over matched they were under focused on the basics of the game.  Ball control.  Offensive play calling where we go “Tempo” no huddle and 11 guys are standing staring at the sidelines like they have never played this game.  Waiting and waiting for the call.  Any call just make a call.  Then with under 5 seconds to go in the play clock Sam points to the turf and the ball is snapped.  Hell, if I was an LB or Lineman I would see that index finger snapping to the turf and my motor is on and Im moving because I know that the ball is being snapped. Forget the sound of the QB this is easy to see.  Index finger snap to the ground ball snapped to Sam.  Every game.  Every play.  Needs to be fixed.

For weeks we were all wondering (or at least I was) who was really calling the plays?  Tyson? Tee? or Clay?  Well one of those options was not to blame.  Tyson is on his way to Tennessee and clearly was not the problem.  When you love something you care deeply and your football team is all about love.  Tee Martin or Clay Helton?  Who the hell was calling those plays and why do we keep calling it Tempo?  I say, huddle up and let our QB’s of the future earn their Leadership skills by inspiring in the privacy of the huddle which this current call it at the line of scrimmage to speed up the play but don’t hike the ball until its under 5 seconds to go ain’t working folks.

As we go forward it’s time to do some deep sole searching.  This team is loaded.  The defense is a tweak or two away from being great and Clancy is doing a hell of a job.  The offense in its current state is loaded with talent but suspect in how it will move away from the past and not repeat the past over and over again.  Insanity.

Fight On

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