Friday, June 10, 2011

USC Trojans 2010 Review

USC Trojans
2010 Record: 8-5 (5-4), Tied 3rd Pac-10
2010 Bowl Game: None, Ineligible

     USC has completed year one of their exile from the postseason for violations dating back to the Reggie Bush era (and we all know that there were a bunch more probable violations that don't get talked about spanning the entire Pete Carroll era). Lane Kiffin also served his first season as coach, following in the shadows of the ever large Carroll. The results for both? Equally mixed.
     Matt Barkley had some very good moments last fall, but he also had problematic moments as well. It's easy for all of us to expect so much more from him, as he has been spoon fed to the populace as the second coming of Christ, the QB edition, since his arrival from Mater Dei High School. He was anointed the starter from the first breath that he ever took as a Trojan, and never had to actually compete for the job. That being said, we probably expected more from someone who was still just a sophomore. Take away some bad moments, and Barkley was still adept at making some very nice plays.
     Barkley passed for 2791 yards while completing 62.6% of his passes, which averaged out to 232.6 yards per game. One drawback was the fact that he managed to toss 12 picks on the season, which the top shelf QBs in the conference, Luck and Thomas, maintained a non-double figure number when it came to tossing the ball to the other guys. If there was ever a time to prove that Barkley belongs with players such as the aforementioned, it would be 2011.
      One item that I found rather baffling was that the Trojans did not develop a 1000 yard rusher last fall, which is a staple in Trojan lore. Tailback U got away from their bread and butter, and I believe that it harmed them in many ways, especially considering the depth that they always have at the position. Student Body right and left became spread the field all over the place in every direction, and it was not flattering. Marc Tyler was the leading rusher, with a line of 171-913-9, but he only carried the football 13.15 times per game, while Allen Bradford (110-794-5) only averaged 10 carries per game. Bradford missed a pair of games, which would lead one to believe that the door would open for heralded freshman Dillon Baxter (called by some the second coming of Reggie Bush), but alas, Baxter started to form a reputation akin to Bush's off-field exploits rather than his on-field persona. Baxter got mixed up with some questionable incidents early on, and it seemed like he didn't realize that USC had issues that he was trying to perpetuate. Baxter never really seemed to get out of the doghouse, and rushed for 252 yards while missing 3 games. The Trojans still managed to rush for a significant 189 yards per game, but the position thins out next fall, as Bradford and CJ Gamble (52-253-1) both depart.
     The Trojans had a senior laden receiving corps, and one in particular had a very good year. Ronald Johnson tied for the team lead in receptions as a senior, having posted a line of 64-692-8, averaging 10.81 yards per grab. While the depth came from the senior class, it was a freshman who would lead them, as Robert Woods busted through as the future of the position, as he led the Trojans in receiving yards after posting a line of 64-786-6. The other issue that I had with the handling of the run game, was the fact that none of the primary backs were receiving threats, and that most of the yards out of the backfield went to Stanley Havili, who was used more as an H-Back.  Havili finished as the 3rd best receiver (32-396-2) on the team. He was followed by former starter David Ausberry (20-252-4) and Rhett Allison (20-229-1).
      The Trojan defense was abysmal by Trojan standards, as they allowed 400 yards per game to opposing offenses, including 259.5 yards against the pass. TJ McDonald led the Trojans in tackles from the secondary with 89. He was followed byLB Malcolm Smith (78), DB Shareece Wright (73), LB Devon Kennard (72), DL Jurrell Casey (67), and LB Michael Morgan (57). Smith, Wight, and MOrgan all departed after the season, and with limited scholarships available, those holes are getting tougher to fill.
     The front seven gave up 140 yards per game on the ground, so not much special was going on there. Casey and Smith were the leaders in TFLs, but Casey was the only player that finished in double figures with 11 on the season. The Trojans did make 82 TFLs last fall, but it was feast or famine for the Trojans, as they were victimized more often than not. The Trojans also did not have a guy to point to that was solid at getting to the QB, as nobody had more than 4. The Trojans did manage to average 2 sacks per game.
      The secondary was shredded all season long, and the Trojans lacked any serious playmakers, which again, is wierd, being that USC has always had strong DBs, especially their safeties. Shareece Wright, was the exception to the rule, as he did manage to defend 9 passes, but he was a man on an island, and nobody else provided him support that he needed. There was some hope for the future, as freshman Nickell Robey led the team with 4 picks, returning one for a score. Malcolm Smith only picked off one pass, but he took it 74 yards for a score.
     Joe Houston was a mess at PK, having only hit on 10 of his 16 FG attempts last fall. He did hit on all 43 PATs, but the Trojans lost out on 18 points during the season on his misses alone. He has to be replaced now, as he departed after the season. Jacob Harfman, another senior, was more dependable at Punter, as he averaged 41.14 yards per punt. Robert Woods is a stellar kick return guy, as he averaged 25.55 yards per kick return, and he scored once. He averaged over 74 yards per game in returns alone. Ronald Johnson was equally threatening as a punt return man, as he averaged 14.18 yards per return, and he too took one back for a score.
Final Notes
     The Trojans are once again ineligible for the Pac-12 title, and they are still down 15 scholarships this season. The sanctions started to show some wear, as the Trojans lost 4 conference games for the first time in a great while. USC is no longer the class of the conference, nor do they have the best talent at every position as they once. did. The jury is still out on Lane Kiffin, as he hardly blew the roof off in season one.  USC is slipping, and Kiffin had better get a quick grip on it, because there will be very few honeymoon allowances, and there were few provided in year one.

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