Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog that was titled, “I think USC is back.” I meant every word in that blog knowing that USC’s schedule is one of the toughest but given how great Sam Darnold finished last season and knowing the returning starters on defense. I figured USC could make a playoff run, although the schedule is tricky and the lack of having a bye week could mean being worn down by November.
To some, I’m the resident USC Trojans football fan. This whole “actually being a fan” of a team for longer than 1 year is weird to some. Being a USC fan the last 7 years has been stressful. Probation. Lane Kiffin. Steve Sarkisian. It was like Pat Haden had zero clue how to be a competent Athletic Director. Now? Everything is all roses (you see what I did there).
The beginning of last season was tough. I remember when USC blew a 4th quarter lead to Utah. I told my boy Jake that I was “done.” No seriously, I was over it. The last 3 years have been nothing but blown leads and potential. My USC breakdowns on Facebook have been a sight to behold. Everybody rushes to Facebook to see if I’ve had a mental breakdown or if I’m just there to brag (I know the folks in Seattle want my head after Darnold and Co went to Husky Stadium and ruined their perfect season). It’s an honor to rant about Clay Helton every Saturday and banter with everyone, honestly. I should probably relax this year. But I won’t… unless my mom tells me to.
The last time USC played an actual football game was January 2nd. I was there in the USC endzone at the Rose Bowl watching Sam Darnold become a legend while seeing Trace Mcsorley throw one of the worst passes of all-time, then watching former kicker Matt Boermeester (what an idiot, man) kick the game-winner. It all happened in the span of 15 minutes. Riveting to watch. Rose Bowl wins are fun (It was USC’s 25th rose bowl win in 32 appearances). Being there was amazing. Listening to conquest play for 20 minutes straight with tears in your eyes knowing that your squad might be back is sensational. It’s been a long road for the USC program. Shoutout to Paul Dee.
Flash forward to 8 months. The USC hype has been really…. strange. It began when I was in LAX the day after the Darnold Miracle. I had a USC shirt on and this random guy comes up to me saying “So National Title next year?” I laughed it off because in my head, I’m thinking “dude, USC just scored 17 unanswered 12 hours ago, let’s enjoy this,” but it being 8 month ago, it’s wild. I forgot how it feels to actually be excited for a season to unfold. The last time I was very excited for a USC football season was back in 2008. Oddly enough, that was the last time I thought USC could also win the entire thing (Oregon State smh). That was when Mark Sanchez wasn’t known for the butt fumble and when Sarkisian was known as this hot commodity because of his “offensive mind.”
Everybody already knows about Sam Darnold. However, I expect Rojo 2.0. (salute to the original ROJO, Ronald Johnson) to break out and have a monster season due to everybody focusing on Sam. The defense will be led by Preseason All-Americans Cameron Smith and Iman “Biggie” Marshall. I expect the defense to be a hell of a lot better than it was last year being that its in the 2nd year of a system. It’s a beautiful thing to see all of the talent (youth and veterans) come together.
But back to the hype. I hate how my team is being hyped. Not in this “I think we’re gonna fail” hype. But in the “holy ****, are they that good?” type of hype. It’s funny because 10 years ago, I would be “hell yeah, we’re good and better than you.” After the probation and the loss of scholarships, I forgot what this feels like. Them having the possibility of being this good is weird, but yet, it feels right.
I’ve been reading this stuff about Darnold and I’m nervous for him. Three offensive lineman are gone (two were All-Conference and All-Americans). Other than Deontay Burnett and Daniel Imatorbhebhe, most of these guys are talented but haven’t played a down yet. Maybe he’ll struggle a bit this year. He’s only started in 10 games. He’s really great. Trust me. I’ve seen the arm talent in person and it’s ridiculous. However, let’s temper the expectations with him. That includes myself too. Luckily in these interviews that I read and hear him speak, he doesn’t seem fazed by it. He seems ready for the spotlight.
I keep it to a unbiased perspective when it comes to USC. Last year, I thought they’d go 8-4. They went 10-3 and won the Rose Bowl. I was close enough. If they didn’t start 1-3, they probably would have won the Pac-10+2 and play in the playoff, given how difficult their schedule was. This year, without a bye week, it gets tricky. Injuries could pile up and they could be done by November. September is a tough stretch with 3 ranked opponents (Stanford, Texas, Washington State) and a very tough Western Michigan squad. I don’t include Cal because the University of California hasn’t beaten a USC team since I was in the 6th grade (That was Matt Leinart’s 3rd or 4th start, I believe). I still don’t know if Clay Helton is a good coach, but I feel better about him calling the shots more than I did last year at this time.
Am I nervous as a fan? Hell yeah, I am. I really think this could be the year but the schedule does this team no favors. Nice job, Larry Scott. I’ll say it here though; if USC goes undefeated in September, there is a great chance that they’ll be in the Pac-10+2 title game. They could be back in Pasadena for the playoff game January 1st and I’ll most likely be in attendance (maybe my mom will pay for my ticket this time…kidding, kidding) again.
I’m so excited to see this squad play all fall. It’ll be a fun season, at least I hope so. I think USC is back. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks. I believe in Sam. I believe in Clay Helton. I believe in Tee. I believe in Clancy. What a difference a year makes. The optimism is high. Prove that you’re back. Win the conference. Get back to Pasadena. FTFO. Beat the Broncos.
I came back to wordpress for this. Sickening that it took me since May to blog but you know what? This needs to be said.
That was the most embarrassing way to ever lose a football game. I can’t even describe what I just saw on a TV screen. It’s not like I expected USC to you know, win a title this year. I’ve been one of the few people who said back in August that SC should win at least 8-9 games given their schedule. I’m not expecting much. It’s a young football team. A lot of freshman playing key roles, so my expectations are clearly, and I mean CLEARLY low given a first year coaching staff, and lack of depth.
It’s hilarious to me that USC can’t defend a simple Hail Mary. Matter of fact, these dudes haven’t defended anything in the secondary all year. Don’t they practice on covering? When you go against Nelson Aglohor, JuJu Smith, Darreus Rogers, and George Farmer, you should be able to at least ATTEMPT to cover someone. So many USC games that I’ve seen with that ending. 2007 Stanford. 2009 Washington. 2009 Arizona. 2010 Washington. 2012 Stanford. 2012 Arizona. 2012 Notre Dame. 2013 Washington State. I was with my friend Grace, and I told her, “watch USC blow this in hilarious fashion because that’s what they do in these types of situations.” And what do you know? These dudes are LOST when it comes to defending the pass in the secondary.
Credit Arizona State for winning this game, but USC gave this game away by their pathetic, paper mache defense. Who coaches these defensive backs? Matter of fact, how did Jaylen Strong run a simple post route down the middle of the field without ANYONE touching him, then, and then, NOBODY jumps to even defend the ball. Are you dudes serious? Cause what I just saw, nope. Nah. I’m not having it with yall.
A lot of you fools are gonna sit and blame Sark for this. Even though I was never for the hire, this really isn’t all on him. Yes, the offense looks like R.Kelly’s doo-doo at certain times, but they scored 34 points on a bad night. How many teams can say that? That says a lot about them as an offensive unit. Sure, USC’s offense could have put up close to 40, but when you score 34 points in a game, you should expect to win.
I’m fed up right now. Not embarrassed. Fed up.
How does NOBODY jump on a hail mary? How Sway?
Just sickening how these developments. Crazy how USC could be 5-0 at best, and sitting pretty seeing how everybody lost today. Even 4-1 would be nice. But nope. 3-2 after losing on a hail mary because nobody knows how to defend it. Sickening. Embarrassing.
I am not an NFL draft expert. I do not have the time or the resources to be an NFL draft expert. I don’t have film to study or a DVR to watch recorded games. What I do have are bits and pieces of games I watched on Saturdays, as well as a bunch of murky narratives I cooked up in my head, based mostly on the art of comparing current players to past players.
Therefore, I will be putting together several lists containing my thoughts on some of the top NFL prospects in the 2014 draft class.
The following is my less-than-educated take on the top 14 NFL quarterback draft prospects based on CBS Sports’ rankings. Take everything I say with a grain of salt, and chase it with a shot of penicillin.
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville, JR
Bridgewater is widely considered one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Given that he plays at a smaller school and isn’t the clear-cut best quarterback in this draft, he will likely be a force on Sundays. Plus, what he lacks in football abilities, he makes up for with an NFL-ready name.
Derek Carr, Fresno State, rSR
No. See: Carr, David.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, rSO
Johnny Football is the poster child for college stars whose on-field dominance is over-shadowed by his off-field escapades. If he can keep his head on straight, he’s Russell Wilson. If he can’t, he’s Todd Marinovich.
Blake Bortles, Central Florida, rJR
I watched one game of his and all Brian Griese would talk about is his athleticism. When athleticism and a big arm is all a quarterback has going for him, chances are it’s not going to translate to the NFL gridiron. Griese was throwing around names like RGIII and Steve Young. I see Jake Locker … at BEST. Teams shouldn’t bother drafting this guy.
AJ McCarron, Alabama, rSR
An average college quarterback that rode a couple of elite running backs, some dominant defenses and one of the best coaches ever to unparalleled success. Bottom line – he isn’t that good. Don’t get caught up in his intangibles – he’s basically Matt Cassel.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois, SR
I haven’t watched this guy play one down of football, but he’s played four years at Eastern Illinois, which naturally means he’s going to be the best QB in this draft. For the love of all that is holy, take this guy with the No. 1 pick because he has all the makings to be the steal of the draft.
Zach Mettenberger, LSU, rSR
Stop it. Zach Mettenberger stinks.
David Fales, San Jose State, SR
Played in a pass-happy offense in a non-AQ conference. Mr. Fales, Colt Brennan is on line 1.
Brett Smith, Wyoming, JR
Never watched him, but Garoppolo already has the Cinderella story of the draft wrapped up. It’s probably time Smith start looking for work in a different profession.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson, rSR
I feel so bad for Boyd. I was so certain he was going to be a monster this year, enter the NFL and be Tom Brady. Alas, since I am always wrong, he turned out to be not as great as expected and will likely fizzle out in the League. Sorry, Tajh.
Aaron Murray, Georgia, rSR
My man-crush on Murray will doom him to the same fate as Boyd. His NFL ceiling has gone from Aaron Rodgers to Alex Smith.
Stephen Morris, Miami (FL), SR
I found myself scratching my head a lot watching Stephen Morris play quarterback. He isn’t ready for Sundays and will not be very good. However, he does have a big arm so he’ll stick around as a backup for awhile.
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech, rSR
No. He went to Virginia Tech. That’s a big enough red flag for me, and it should be a big enough red flag for NFL scouts.
Garrett Gilbert, SMU, rSR
My lasting memory of Garrett Gilbert is the 2010 National Championship game. Yuck.
If you have a question or comment, leave one on here or tweet me at @Madsports8 .
Let me get this out the way. I hate Steve Sarkisian. I hated him at USC when he was calling plays with Lane Kiffin. I hated him even more when he was calling the offensive plays by himself. In fact, you know the game that made me hate him more than a person should hate someone? Oregon State in 2008. USC’s offense looked like it’s never played football in the first half. Then, all of the sudden, Sark actually let Mark Sanchez (Pre butt fumble) throw the ball around to get back in the game, then went back to that conservative gameplan. When Sark took an interview and got the UW job in late 2008, I was HYPED and said, “I’ll never have to deal with this dude ever again at USC.”
5 years later, and now I probably have to deal with this dude. Steve Sarkisian is a bad hire. Awful hire for USC. I don’t care like, how people want to spin it. He couldn’t win at Washington. He had his best team in years, and what did he do with his own players? Win 8 games. I get how the Pac-12 North is tough. I get how UW had to rebuild from a program that was 0-12, but you know what? UW has NFL players on its roster, and he recruited better than most. But Sark was being talked about being fired if they didn’t get over the 7 win hump. He wins 8 games and suddenly, he’s a “USC” type of coach? Lol, Pat Haden what?
Lane Kiffin is thing 1. Hired by former AD Mike Garrett because he wanted to keep recruits at USC, and came off a 7 win season at Tennessee. Steve Sarkisian is thing 2. Hired by Haden after a 8 win season and probably to keep recruits after USC got embarrassed by UCLA on Saturday night. Kiffin and Sark are similar in so many ways except Sark is “likable” by the national media more than Kiffin (for now). I’m trying to figure out what Pat Haden saw in Sarkisian. Was it his wife? Was it the fact that he had USC ties? Was it because UW somewhat improved even though he’s an average coach and not a motivator? What was it? How is this…….. good for the USC program? When Kevin Sumlin took his name out of the race, did Haden really panic? Or when Chris Petersen took his name out, did he just say, “well you know what, Sark really wants it, let’s just give it to him?” Why not let Coach O just test drive the program since the Coli looked like it was back in the Carroll days?
It’s as simple as this:
Pat Haden, like why, dude? Did you fall asleep at the wheel? Not only did you hire Sark, Coach O is gone forever and was “outraged” that he couldn’t get an opportunity, and honestly, even though USC lost to UCLA and was flat as hell during that game, Orgeron won 6 games in conference in a season. Sark didn’t do that at UW in the 5 years he was there. If you didn’t want to hire Coach O, fine. I get that. But Sark? Lol Sark?
I thought we were homies, Mr. Haden. After this, I gotta play Nothing Was the Same because this is embarrassing. I feel personally offended that Sark was hired at my favorite team to the point where I don’t even know if I want to be a fan anymore(I’ll probably be a fan but this stinks, man). That’s how real it is. This is a hurtful day in the Shaun Howard life. I don’t deserve this, God. All I wanted was to get out of the Pete Carroll era, and sadly, we’ll never do that. This could have been anybody other than Sark. James Franklin (Not the Mizzou QB) was a better option. Jack Del Rio was a better option. Instead, Haden hires another Kiffin type probably to save recruits. Like, go back to calling Notre Dame games, Haden. Our friendship is ~over~ (I sounded like a teenage girl with that. Blame iTunes, bruh).
Hopefully it works out and I hope I’m wrong. But this looks like RIP to the USC Program for little bit longer than we all expected. So thanks a lot Pat Haden!
USC could have done so much better but instead, it’s gonna be so bad for the next 3-5 years. We’re just going in the direction Notre Dame did. *sigh*
Fight on, but…….. yeah. College bball blog tomorrow.