Tag Archives: USC

Barkley’s Back! Watch Out Pac-12, BCS

Man, today is probably the most excited I’ve been about USC football in years. It’s hard to get excited about a team when the games don’t count for anything. Next year, the Trojans are off probation, and I certainly know how good it feels to be off probation! I’ve been a USC fan since 1995 when my sister enrolled there.  Since I chose to go to school at a mid-major conference school, I didn’t have a football team. Well, we did in the past – a damn good one at that – but we had too many black people. In 1951, the USF Dons went undefeated, but were uninvited to any bowl game because they had, gasp, three black guys! That team is still the only college team in history to have three future NFL hall of famers (Bob St. Clair, Ollie Matson, and Geno Marchetti). They surely would’ve had a fourth, if it weren’t for a devestating, career-ending injury sustained by Burl Toler. Still, he went on to become the first black referee in the NFL, so that’s still pretty notable. Add to that, the team’s information director, a guy by the name of Pete Rozelle, went on to play a small part in the NFL’s history, serving as commissioner from 1960 to 1989.

Those days are long gone though, so I’ve adopted USC as my college football team. It’s been a rough few years, but as I mentioned, the Trojans are off probation and back in the thick of things next year. Not many people realize this, but they finished the season as the 5th ranked team in the nation in the AP poll. I’ve got to be honest, I haven’t watched them much in the last 2-3 years since they weren’t bowl-eligible. The exception being the big win over Oregon this year. I can’t imagine I would have watched in on an average Saturday night, but I was in Utah that weekend for my grandfather’s funeral. It was a great game, and I was excited for what could be next year, but I assumed it was a foregone conclusion that quarterback Matt Barkley wouldn’t be there. Even leading up to today, I didn’t really hold out much hope that Barkley would return for his senior season. He would have been a consensus top 10 pick in this year’s NFL draft, and I still can’t really see any kid wanting to play for Lane Kiffin. But Barkley is different. He’s one of those once in a decade players who had dreamed of playing at USC his entire life. Following in the footsteps of Matt Leinart from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA, Barkley also chose to return for his senior season. What makes it special, though, is this year it’ll count.

The Trojans finished 2011 with a 10-2 record, that of course went largely unnoticed. Their two losses came against an Arizona State team that was a LOT better than the one playing in tonight’s Las Vegas Bowl, and a triple-overtime thriller against an elite Stanford team. Not only is Barkley coming back, but he’ll have his two best receivers returning as well. Sophomore Robert Woods and Freshman Marqise Lee combined for 184 receptions, 2,435 yards, and 26 touchdowns. Running back Marc Tyler graduates, but Curtis McNeal was the team’s leading rusher. With probation behind them, I’ve got to believe they’ll have one or two future Heisman candidates coming in next year to take handoffs. They are expected to lose junior left tackle Matt Kalil to the NFL Draft, but you can’t win them all. Next year, though, the Trojans just very well may. I hope Oregon and Stanford enjoyed the run they had, because next year the Pac-12 goes, once again, through Southern California.

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Trojans Win Track Meet At Aloha Stadium

David Ausberry, a 6'4', 235 LBS WR, pushed away CB Lametrius Davis with one arm after catching the ball and strolled into the end zone.

Here’s some observations I had from last night’s USC vs. Hawaii opener, and the nightmare on defense, for both teams…

  • USC’s offense looked mediocre when you take into account Hawaii has a terrible defense that was outsized on the line by a wide margin
  • USC’s defense looked absolutely terrible, missed tackles and blown coverages galore
  • Hawaii’s offense looked very good, even their 3rd string QB passed for 2 TDs, which is the only solace for USC
  • USC’s offense will only get better, they’ll have 4 effective RBs with four different styles of play, and they have about 6 WRs that when healthy would start anywhere in the country
  • 2 possible Heisman candidates stood out last night as well as a possible third: Matt Barkley and Ronald Johnson looked in sync and ready to go from snap 1, and Tyler looked strong and quick.

THE GRADES:

Passing Offense: B+

Couple of bad drops/deflections, couple of holding calls, but for game 1 on the road, a very good showing

Running Offense: B-

Mark Tyler waited for this opportunity for a long time. He started this year at #4 on the RB depth chart. He showed why he's now #1 after putting up 154 yards rushing and a TD in the opener.

Easy to look good running against Hawaii, should have run for 300 yards and didn’t.  See Wisconsin last year.  Younger Oline but so much talent

Passing Defense: D-

Perhaps deserved an F but the Off bailed them out.  Young secondary looked terrible, blown coverages and hands on defenders all over.  Pass rush was ok.

Running Defense: C

Line looked a little tired toward the end, but that’s what happens when your thin after injuries and key departures.  Room for improvement, especially tackling

Special Teams: C

Only highlight was Ronald Johnson’s (ill-advised) spectacular return, but again against a weak defensive team.  What was the 2 point conversion thing???  Yuck

Overall: C+

Not a good performance against a weak Hawaii team.  Coaches should be worried.  Oline really should have dominated more against a smaller but speedy D.  The Defense looked the part we expected: very young and inexperienced.  Pass rush will look better against normal offenses, this was a quick strike run&gun so the pressure they did put on was impressive.  Tackling should get better as they did not tackle in fall ball, so all kinds of room for improvement there.  And kick a point after for chr sake.  That was embarrassing.


Gut Reactions to Lane Kiffin Being Named Head Coach at USC

Big news out of Los Angeles as USC announced that Tennessee Head Coach, Lane Kiffin (and his dad of course) will be replacing Pete Carroll. Just when I thought Kiffin was out of my life for good, here he comes back through the Rose Garden to patrol the LA Coliseum sidelines once again – this time as the Head Coach. His father, Monty, will be running the defense for the Trojans. While my first reaction was relief that the coaching vacancy has been filled already, I must admit I was hopeful that someone else, like Jeff Fisher would get the job. The upside is that the Trojans will get an established coach, although the jury is still out on his abilities as the man in charge. Kiffin, of course, didn’t have the most glamorous run at the helm of the Oakland Raiders, but looking back, his record was no worse than anyone else to come through Oakland in the last 6 years. In his only season in Knoxville, Kiffin led the Volunteers to a 7-6 record (4-4 SEC). What will be most interesting to see is how the recruiting season pans out. Will players be as excited to play for Kiffin as they were for Carroll? Will Lane be bringing any of his Tennessee players with him? While many questions will remain open for the months to come, one thing has been cleared up – that being the coaching position – so at the very least, USC can move on and look to rebound from their most disappointing season in the now-defunct Pete Carroll era.

After splitting the last three football seasons between Oakland and Knoxville, Little Kiffin is returning to Watts.


Doin Work Mailbag

Welcome to the first installment of the Doin Work Mailbag. Some of these go pretty far back, since we haven’t published any e-mail feedback to this point. You’ll be surprised at some of the letters we got….

Dear Doin Work,

I don’t caer for yor coments about me. I never listen to crittics. Oviusly you didn’t wach any of owr games. I’m the onley one out there playin good. You try throwin ta guys named Chaz, Louis, and Jonnie Lee. Shoot, I can’t even see past my center’s hair. Plus, the ofensiv line is teribel. As soon as I can get out of Oakland, you’ll see. I’ll be wining. A lot. You probbably see me holding a mvp trophey one day.

-Jamarcus Russell

First off, allow me to apologize. We didn’t want to make it look like you didn’t bring value to the team. You give fans something to cheer for – like, when you get hurt or yanked out of the game. You also keep things interesting. We love going into a game against a team like the Chiefs or Browns knowing that we could very well get shut out. We also love the fact that you could be replaced by a backup QB and we could beat any team in the league.

Dear Doin Work,

I really don’t appreciate your use of my likeness as the Joker in your Doin Lines feature. Was this supposed to be a subtle reference to my overdose? I don’t remember doing any cocaine that night, if that’s what you’re getting at. I’ll let you off the hook for now, but I swear, mate, if you put up a picture of Jake Gyllenhal and I the next time a pro athlete comes out of the closet, that’ll be the 10th thing I hate about you. You don’t wanna see that!

-Heath Ledger

Don’t worry, Heath. I’m sure that wasn’t the reason Chappy put your picture up. I think it had something to do with New Year’s, and how the Joker gassed up the Gotham City NYE celebration. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.

Dear Doin Work,

Thanks for posting Brass Bonanza on Christmas Eve! It’s still the greatest sports song of all time. We may not have the Whalers anymore, but there’ll always be NHL 94 on Sega!

-Greg R. Hartford, CT

Greg, you don’t have to tell us twice! Brass Bonanza will live on for eternity with such classics as NBA on NBC and Rock and Roll Part 2.

Dear Doin Work,

Don’t blame me for “spoiling” USC basketball. I didn’t do anything wrong. Money was on the table, I took it. No one would do anything different – ask Stephen Jackson. Whatever, SC got what they deserved. I don’t care if they have to forfeit wins or postseason appearances. I was never a Trojan. I just wanted to play my one year of college ball in LA and move on.

-OJ Mayo

You’re right, and let’s face it, anything to keep eyes off the football team is a good thing.

Dear Doin Work,

What’s up with all the Tyreke Evans hype? Everybody knows Brandon Jennings will be the rookie of the year. He scored 55 points in a game! What’s Tyreke’s season high? It definitely wasn’t 55. He also has a lot more help on his team with great players like Sean May and Andres Nocioni. Brandon Jennings has no one, yet he scored 55 points in a game! It’s called the rookie of the year award, not rookie on the most surprising team of the year. Did I mention Jennings scored 55 in a game?!

-Jake R. Waukesha, WI

Perhaps we’re biased living on the West Coast, but Tyreke Evans has been having a more consistent, more impressive year. If Evans fails to notch a 55 point game, though, the award is all Jennings’.

Dear Doin Work,

I heard you wrote about me “having fun in Charlotte.” I tried to read the article, but when I picked up my laptop, I fumbled it off my foot and it went out of bounds.

-Stephen Jackson

Understandable. If you get it back though, just shoot it. I hope you don’t take that the wrong way.

Dear Doin Work,

Please take down the video of me blocking Kobe’s dunk attempt. True, it was a most beautiful block, but Kobe is the best player in the game. By posting this video, you are devaluing the game of basketball. I hope you will reconsider this practice in the future. Until then, go Lakers Warriors!

-Ronny Turiaf

First off, let me just say I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment of ‘Movie Time with Ronny’ on Warriors Weekly. Your analysis of The Hangover was fantastic. If I hadn’t seen it already, I surely would’ve rushed to Blockbuster to pick it up. I never would’ve guessed it was “very funny.” As for the video we posted, some of us are Warriors fans. We know you’re still a Laker at heart, but I’ve spent the last few years cheering against you, first at Gonzaga, then in Los Angeles. You wear a Warriors jersey and you blocked Kobe Bryant. We’re going to show that no matter what.

Dear MCeezy,

I’m sorry to hear about your frustration with Xbox. I can’t say that I’m sorry, because I really have nothing to do with that. However, you may be happy to know you can still play great games on your PC. It looks like you are running Windows 7, a fine choice. If you have any other questions, feel free to respond to this email via Microsoft Word, the best word processor available. How come there are no posts about the Seattle Sonics on your page?

-Bill Gates

Don’t worry about it Bill. I crafted a beautiful chart of my experience with Xbox on Microsoft Excel, then exported it to Microsoft Access for review. I’m just putting some finishing touches on it in Microsoft Publisher and I’ll show it to you once I set up my Microsoft Outlook. As for Sonics news, just search Kevin Durant and you’ll find plenty of mention of the Sonics.

Dear Doin Work,

Hey Brah, I really hope you weren’t making fun of us with the cross country snowboarding vid. Skootching a serious sport man.

-Tyler F. Kings Beach, CA

Not at all….. Not at all.



Mayo Spoils USC Basketball

USC Basketball will have to take a seat for next season as they admitted to the NCAA commission. They came down with their own self imposed ruling on the OJ Mayo investigation. They vacated all their 07-08 wins, and money earned from the Pac-10. Ultimately, the basketball program is banned from post-season play next year, and is stripped of one scholarship for the next two years, and have to make one coach sit out from recruiting, and have 20 less recruiting days per year (110 instead of 130) for the next two years. I’m far from shocked at the ending to this story. The facts seemed pretty stacked against them, and while I hoped it would prove to be false accusations, deep down I knew it wasn’t. That’s why the age eligibility rule that the NBA decided to impose has made the guys ready to get into the NBA too dangerous for the NCAA. Teams are hard pressed into trying to get these players, so if it means giving them a few extra perks, so be it. We all know that Mayo wasn’t there for school purposes, and the one and done type player accomplishes nothing substantial towards a degree. I wonder if the NCAA gave USC some sort of an ultimatum. Either we bust you for Mayo, or we bust you for Bush and McKnight. I’m sure the school would much rather lose hoops for a season over the losing the storied football team, and giving back a National Championship. Lucky for them it’s just the hoops squad!


Pac-10 Sucks It Up For The Holiday Season

Oregon capped off a crappy bowl season for the Pac-10. The Ducks were smothered 26-17 by team sweater-vest tonight in the Rose Bowl. It wasn’t all that great of a game, just like many of the other games that Pac-10 teams decided to NOT show up for. As a whole they went 2-5, and the only teams that seemed to actually want to play were USC and UCLA. I guess there’s something in the water in Socal, like salt, but something went wrong for everybody else. Arizona, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal, and Stanford all seemed to forget how to play. I was especially disappointed in the Arizona performance, and was glad I only caught a quarter of the game. They must have been thinking about their New Years Eve plans more than the game. Personally I thought we’d do a lot better, but I guess it proves that the Pac-10 isn’t as strong as I thought. I truly thought Stanford, Oregon, and Oregon State would pull out wins. I guess if there was a playoff setup we wouldn’t have made it anywhere… Anyways, now we can move to a new decade. One that will hopefully be a stronger one for the Pac-10!


NorCal Sports Tonight

There are some pretty big games for Northern California teams tonight, starting with the Pointsettia Bowl, where Cal will face off against #23 Utah.

Pointsettia Bowl – California vs. #23 Utah. 5:00pm PST

Utah is the better team, finishing the season at 9-3. Their 3 losses came to good teams; Oregon, BYU, and TCU. Cal, on the other hand, is without superstar running back, Javhid Best, but Shane Vereen has filled in pretty nicely since Best went down with a back injury. Vereen ran for over 400 yards in his last three games, and Utah doesn’t have the best run defense, so the Golden Bears should at least be able to move the ball, which should keep them in the game.

St. Mary’s vs. USC. 2:00pm PST

USC was struggling, losing three straight, before winning their next four, including a blowout of #9 Tennessee. St. Mary’s, meanwhile, is off to an impressive 10-1 start, but they’re lacking some defining wins over quality programs. They do have a win over Oregon in Eugene, but beating the Trojans would be huge for their NCAA Tournament resume.

Sacramento Kings vs. Lebron James. 7:00pm PST

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a four game roadtrip that concludes with their Christmas Day showdown with the Lakers. Tonight, though, they make a stop in Sacramento to take on Tyreke Evans and the surprising Kings. Sacramento is one game under .500 at 13-14, already within three wins of last seasons total. It should be close to a full house with Lebron in the building, so expect to see another throwback, loud Arco Arena.

University of San Francisco vs. CSU-Bakersfield. 5:00pm PST

Okay, so this isn’t really a big game at all, but the Dons have lost 8 of their last 9, and they travel to Seattle to take on #22 Washington on Sunday. They’ll need to handily defeat the Road Runners of Cal State Bakersfield (1-8) if they’re going to have any momentum whatsoever going into West Coast Conference Play.



Rivalry Week!

Today is the day the U ofs meet the States. That’s right, all the rivalry games go down this week. USC – UCLA, Florida – Florida State, BYU – Utah, Clemson – South Carolina, Oklahoma – Oklahoma State, TCU – New Mexico… wait, what?  How did that game get in there? Now, it’s not mandatory that all rivalry games take place this weekend, but how did some of these games sneak into the schedule? Sure, Mississippi – Mississippi State makes sense, but where did LSU – Arkansas come from? Are they really rivals? How about last night’s matchup of Cincinnati and Illinois? Some of these games don’t make sense. Nonetheless, there are plenty of rivalry games on the docket today. Along with the aformentioned games, we’ll also be treated to Georgia Tech – Georgia, Virginia – Virginia Tech, and Arizona – Arizona State. At the same time, nonsensical games like Navy – Hawaii, Syracuse – Connecticut, and Southern Miss – East Carolina will take place. Is it rivalry week or not? Regardless of the meaningless, pointless matchups, there will still be plenty worthwhile games on the schedule today. Here are the upsets I’m predicting today….

Oklahoma over Oklahoma State

South Carolina over Clemson

Arizona State over Arizona

Utah over BYU

And…. I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing Stanford roll over Notre Dame in Charlie Weis’ farewell game.

Happy Saturday!!!


BYU – TCU Biggest Game of the Day

While the top teams are busy playing the likes of Mississippi State, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Oregon State, #8 TCU and #16 BYU are squaring off in Provo.  Being a pretty devout USC fan, my Saturdays usually revolve around the Trojans.  However, with about 7 minutes until kickoff, my TV figures to remain on the much-maligned Versus channel.  As much as I want to watch Jacquiz Rogers run circles around the men of Troy, I’d rather see Harvey Unga running through a sea of Horned Frogs.  Now, at the time of writing this, TCU has just scored their second TD jumping out to a 14-0 lead.  They clearly have the edge right now, but don’t count out the Cougars just yet.  If they can get the crowd at Lavell Edwards back in the game, we could be in for a finish that could rival Utah-Air Force and Clemson-Miami.  Expect some signature plays from guys like Jeremy Kerley, Jerry Hughes, Max Hall, and Unga, that we’ll probably be seeing next spring during ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft.

Is TCU-BYU the biggest game of the day?  The only other matchup of ranked teams was #24 Oklahoma vs. #25 Kansas.  Weigh in below….

UPDATE: BYU is listless, and the first play I saw after switching to USC-OSU was a Jacquiz Rogers fumble.  On second thought….


USC at Ohio St: Part Two at the Shoe

All I kept reading about after Week One of the new season was how star freshman QB Matt Barkley played loose and stayed under control at all times while guiding the Trojans for 3 quarters.  How the 5-headed Trojan RB monster (yes, we shall include Marc Tyler, who would be starting at half the Pac-10 schools) ran all over the SJSU defense, pulling away in the second quarter with 4 touchdowns alone after slow start.  How the Heisman Watch should begin for Joe McKnight, who – if you haven’t heard already – is really, really good.   
Joe McKnight gained 105 yards vs OSU in '08, but did not score aTD.

Joe McKnight gained 105 yards vs OSU in '08, but did not score aTD.

Was any of this really a surprise?  Of course not.  But this week we will get to see what the Trojans are really made of after losing several first and second rounder’s to the NFL including, including 3 talented veteran players at the Linebacker position.  The real story will be how the USC Defense reacts to stiff competition against the best team year after year in Big10 this decade.

Perhaps their toughest challenge of the year,the Trojan Defense will face Terrelle Pryor, the 6 foot 6, 235 pounder with a canon arm and speed in the 4.3s.  Navy seemed to have a great formula to at least contain Pryor, and USC is hard at work studying that game film.  But let’s be real here, Navy’s defense doesn’t have the size, speed or talent level that USC has on its second team let alone the starters. 
Don't be surprised if you see this scenario a few times on Saturday.

Don't be surprised if you see this scenario a few times on Saturday.

 
The Secondary, led by All-American Taylor Mays and Josh Pinkard who moves back to CB from Safety, will make it tough on Pryor to find one of his young receivers.  The  speedy LB corp will be the main difference here as the new crop seems faster than last year and able to disrupt plays at will.  We know Pete will be bringing the pressure early and often, and the Trojan Offense will be in full hand-off mode to take the playmakers in the Buckeye Secondary out of the game.  
Has the #2 ever looked smaller?

Has the #2 ever looked smaller?

 
 
Final Score:   USC 42  –  OSU  13   
 

Three Types of College Football Openers

The college football season got off to a lackluster start last night – with the exception of LeGarrette Blount’s performance during the extra period.  What’s sad is Blount was in the shadow of Jeremiah Johnson last year, and this was to be his year in the spotlight.  Unfortunately, he wanted all of his spotlight on the first night, and because of that, he will be all but forgotten in our memories after the weekend is over.  That game, paired with the earlier game, South Carolina vs. NC State, left a lot of us wanting more.  Tulsa and Tulane didn’t exactly deliver Friday night either.  So, Saturday marks our best chance to see some real college football barn-burners.  Week 1 is typically reserved for the powerhouses beating up on some lowly D-1, and sometimes, D-2 schools, but there are a few games that stand out this weekend.  Here, we’ll list the three types of Season Opening games and how they might play out.

The Blowouts

These are the games that are so lopsided Vegas doesn’t even bother with spreads.  They’re the games that are built solely to ensure a team gets off to a 1-0 start and get them off on the right foot in they’re national or conference championship campaign.  You know the type, big school at home versus a small school with little to no national following.  Need some examples?

Akron @ #9 Penn State, Navy @ #6 Ohio State, Jacksonville St. @ #15 Georgia Tech, Montana St. @ Michigan St., The Citadel @ #21 North Carolina, Louisian-Monroe @ #2 Texas, Florida Atlantic @ #24 Nebraska, Charleston Southern @ #1 Florida, and as much as I hate to include them since they don’t typically schedule easy games, #4 USC hosting San Jose State.

The Blowouts Gone Wrong

These games have the same intention as those previously mentioned, however, they can backfire, much as Michigan’s upset loss to Appalachian State.  There aren’t many of them, but at least one is sure to end in heartbreak for a hopeful team.  Here’s our pool of potential upset games.

#22 Iowa vs. Northern Iowa, Auburn vs. Lousiana Tech, #25 Kansas vs. Northern Colorado, #12 California vs. Maryland, UCLA vs. San Diego State, and my pick for the most likely upset, #23 Notre Dame vs. Nevada.

The Legit Matchups

These games are the exception.  They don’t always end in a competitive game, but you have to give the schools credit for diving right into the fray and not scheduling a pushover to kick their season off.  Much like the Boise State – Oregon matchup Thursday night, they can make or break your season.

#13 Georgia @ #9 Oklahoma State, #20 BYU @ #3 Oklahoma, and Week 1’s main event, #5 Alabama vs. #7 Virgina Tech at the Georgia Dome.


The Morning News

So two things I read this morning that really bothered me… 
You wanna piece of this?  I dare you...

You wanna piece of this? I dare you...

  JA Adande has an article about replacing Phil Jackson when he retires, calling him out for not molding any assistants into starters besides Cartwright and someone else.  Adande says he prefers veterans like Tex Winter… RIP. 

Shouldn't TEX be the one sitting in this photo?

Shouldn't TEX be the one sitting in this photo?

 He says Rambis doesn’t count because he’s now in MIN and actually had a chance to coach before Phil came and totally blew it. THEN, later on when he’s naming candidates, he mentions Brian Shaw. An up and coming coach who just happened to be an assistant to Phil, which Adande fails to recognize. He’s got a point about the lack of tutelage skills Phil has employed over the years, but let’s at least be real about the candidates you choose and where they come from. Totally hypocritical, but whatever, I like Adande. He’s epsn basketballs’ Michael Smith.

 

Then I’m reading about USC’s practice yesterday and how Corp “impressed” Pete coming back from his leg bone injury. Pete called it “remarkable” when asked about it, the one word quoted as a response according to the article. 

See that, over there? That's me taking your job.

See that, over there? That's me taking your job.

 Oh Pete… thanks for the lesson in how and why USC is so great at self promotion. Didn’t you just call Aaron out last week saying he MUST be back in practice by TUESDAY to have a chance at starting in 2 weeks? You did, Pete, and the only thing that would have made the situation truly remarkable about would be if Corp WASN’T at practice. He was going to be there with a leg brace on or in a wheel chair if necessary. Nice work Pete, Crown him a hero cause you need a reason to start the junior over the stud freshman. I like it.

And in other news, Pete’s old flame was named the Jets starter today.

I suggest staying away from the Jets, the media in NY will tear you to shreds!

I suggest staying away from the Jets, the media in NY will tear you to shreds!

You still think he should have stayed Pete? 

 Ok, I’m good now.