I think USC is back. No I’m serious.

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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.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California

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.

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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.

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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.

APTOPIX Rose Bowl Football
Southern California wide receiver Deontay Burnett catches a touchdown pass in front of Penn State safety Marcus Allen during the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

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.

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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.

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Let’s just lose off a hail mary, huh?

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.

However………………………………………………..

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’m out.

Fight On.

Yeah… USC just happens to lose.

You know….. I’m not even mad they lost.

I mean, when you turn the ball over 5 times, commit stupid penalties, and yet you have a shot to win.

It’s crazy how USC beats themselves all the time. And I’m not taking anything away from Arizona. In fact, I picked Arizona to win, and I thought they’d win by 10 points.

Going to Tuscon is very very tough, and well Arizona’s offense is a top 5 offense in college football.

But, the stupid shit has to stop. Maybe it will.

Maybe it won’t.

I don’t know anymore.

I don’t even blame Lane Kiffin.

Wanna know why?

As a coach, you can only do so much to tell your guys to stop committing stupid penalties. But, if they continue to commit them, then well… you’re not meant to win.

Sure, USC was the #1 team in the preseason poll (AP), and I still think they are a top 10 team which is weird, but they aren’t THAT bad of a team.

Were they looking ahead to Oregon?  Nah, they weren’t. They simply just got outplayed and beat themselves.

What’s gonna happen next week?

I don’t even know.

I can tell you one thing, it won’t be a blowout.

Oregon isn’t gonna come in the Coli and blow out USC.

There has to be some focus, some discipline, and honestly, start having fun again.

And it starts next week.

More on USC later on this week (Yes, I’ll have time to write something that might get the troops together.)

Fight On.

– Shaun

USC/Stanford Prediction.

USC wins 49-28.

I know, I know.

Stanford has a strong running game,  and a decent defense, but this is the game where I think the USC defense takes over in the 2nd half.

We all know about Stepfan Taylor, and Stanford’s huge offensive line. But with this new quarterback, and new corners who are completely terrible… this might get ugly. The national media is playing up the narrative that Matt Barkley hasn’t beaten Stanford since he’s been the starting QB. Shoot, even I wrote a letter to Matt (https://shaunhoward.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/matt-barkley-its-time/) about how he needs to beat the Farm. I mean, I’m sitting here thinking about the reasons how Stanford could beat USC tonight. There really aren’t much positive things going for them. Stanford averages 300+ yards a game on offense, but is giving up 350+ yards on offense. Stanford’s first two opponents? San Jose State and Duke.

We all know about USC’s struggles to find their 2nd corner back, and I think this is the game, Torin Harris FINALLY takes it. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but Lamar Dawson will start with Dion Bailey and Hayes Pollard. If anything, I think this is the game where USC’s young defensive line dominates the line of scrimmage. They’ve played well early on, but I think now, this is where they take over the game.

On offense, we all know about Barkley/Marqise Lee/ Robert Woods. I expect those two to have big games. But eventually, Matt has to show love to the Tight Ends, right? Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble are impact players at Tight End, and Stanford can’t scheme stop all of the offensive weapons. I expect Lane Kiffin to open up the playbook. Granted, SC’s averaging 40+ with a vanilla playbook and vanilla playcalls (Kiff called 11 screen passes last Saturday), but you can’t beat a ranked opponent with  this type of playbook. He knows it, and the fans know it.

Khaled Holmes was injured last week at the end of the Syracuse game, and nobody knows if he’ll play. I honestly don’t expect him to because he got rolled up pretty badly last week, and was carted off. Never a good sign when a lineman is carted off the field. But maybe that was for pre-caution.

I’m expecting nothing less than a USC victory on Saturday Night. Stanford will be good by the end of the year, but right now?

Too much Trojans.

– Shaun

 

Matt Barkley. It’s time.

YES ITS TIME WHITE NIGGA

Dear Matt Barkley,

First and foremost, you are the white nigga of white niggas. You’ve always been my favorite White dude, but you’re my white nigga now. I live in the Seattle-area and at least 5 hours a day, I have to defend you. I mostly don’t “cape” or defend folks, but for you it’s easy as fuck. It’s not even because you’re the quarterback for the USC Trojans. It’s because deep down, I think you’re a nice guy. I would hope. In fact, when SC comes out here, hopefully I could sneak and meet you just to tell you how much I appreciate you as not only a football player, but as a human being.

Now that we got that out the way.

You aren’t gonna read this, but it’s all good. I don’t expect you to read this. You don’t have time to. (I think?) I could drop this in your mentions on twitter, and you won’t see it.  Wanna know why? You’re a celebrity, while I’m just a random black dude who annoys the shit outta you on twitter. Well, maybe its annoying. You’ve yet to respond to me this year. Last year you did out of the blue. Totally made my night. I’m not writing this to get your attention. I’m writing this shit because as a fan, I think you need to know something.

You owe Stanford an ass kicking. The last time SC has beaten Stanford, I was doing algebra II homework at Oak Harbor High School.  Stanford has beaten us 4 of the 5 years (Biggest Upset Ever probably ruined my life for a bit. I cussed out a girl who was wearing a Stanford sweatshirt the next year because I felt like she was wearing it to mock me. No lie.).  I’ve been a USC fan since I was 10, and Stanford was our slaves. Every year from 5th grade until my freshman year of high school, I took pride in my team handing Stanford L’s and then laughing about it while sipping Gatorade.  But now, it’s the other way around.  And it’s weird, but kinda funny how things change.

For personal and selfish reasons, I have a lot riding on this game, Matt. I don’t really talk a lot of trash, but when the time is given to talk, I’ve done it ( https://shaunhoward.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/sec-fans-are-funny/ and https://shaunhoward.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/sec-fans-are-funny-part-two/) and it only comes when someone comes at me. That being said, I hate the Stanford Cardinal.

smfh

Matt. You’re 0-3 against Stanford. I know you know this. Everyone in America knows this. I just wanted to remind you, and myself that the best quarterback in the country is 0-3 against a pac-12 “rival.”  The only person I’ve seen struggle to beat a team was Peyton Manning, and well… he never beat Florida.  Now, those times were different, I think. Florida had the ol ball coach and all they did was run and gun their ways to wins. But this is different Matt. You have the two best receivers in the game. The best offense in the game. One of the better offensive minds in College Football as your coach. Matt,  it’s time, to get Stanford with the #BeatEMDown on Saturday.

Is this true?!

I wish Harbaugh and Luck were still there. You owe both of those dudes a beating.

You see your face? You see that? The face of shock and disappointment while Harbaugh mocked not just you, mocked everyone in 2009.  As a fan, I was heated, but I was convinced that we’d get them the next year.  But you, and the rest of the Trojan fans were still left in disappointment. And well last year… let’s not even bring that up. The picture above summed up your feelings about that game.

But this year?

This is YOUR time. Your time to prosper. Your time to throw 4 TDs and hit the Stanford fans with trash talk on the sidelines. Call audibles at the line, call Sluggo Win and then do the “eating” gesture with Robert Woods in the end zone to mock that damn Tree they call a mascot.

EAT WITH HIM ON SATURDAY NIGHT

 

When you came back for “Unfinished Business,” This was the game that I pointed at. I mean, you’re gonna be the greatest USC QB of all-time. You came back to finish the job. Not just hopefully win a media opinion National Title, but the Pac-12, and a Rose Bowl. Like true great Trojans. You don’t have to admit it to me but I know in your heart, you want to kick Stanford’s ass. To me, Unfinished Business wasn’t about a Heisman Trophy. No matter what, you will be New York City on that December night, and we’ll all be watching you. Unfinished Business to me was, “well look, I haven’t beat the farm, and I want to kick their ass. I’ll return just do that.”

I know, I know. I’m probably not even thinking right, and I’m doing my own “What’s in Matt’s brain” type of analyzing.  But let’s be honest. After what Stanford fans have done to you, mock em.  In fact, I know you’re saying all the right things in the media. That it’s just “another game,” and that you’re just “focused on doing everything right,” because that’s how you are. But you can’t help but think that in the back of your mind, that you owe Stanford one. Well not one. Not two. But three.

Here’s my point, Matt.

If SC loses this weekend, I’ll be sad. Not because SC is my favorite team and my twitter mentions will be like Baghdad due to this loss. I’ll be sad because you couldn’t beat Stanford. (Sadderday is REAL, bro.)

So ending this blog, I’d like to say this:

Matt, Beat their ass.

Please.

As Justin Timberlake said in “The Social Network,” This is our time. He was speaking to you Barks.

This is your time. You’re already great, but you could be greater than before.

This is your time, Matt

Fight On, Matt.

Beat the Farm.

Literally Beat the Farm.

Sincerely, a big fan,

Shaun