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.
Are you…… kidding me?
I can’t even like,
focus to write about this.
But, here’s my reaction when I saw the news.
Remember the blog I wrote on Thursday about how I love the USC Trojans? (If you haven’t read it, click here) Well, the USC Trojans delivered and brought tears of joy to the fanbase, knocking off #4 Stanford 20-17 and in the process, Interim head coach Ed Orgeron is making a strong, strong case to be the next coach of the USC Program. Cody Kessler had a coming out party to the national media/audience, and guess what? These aren’t your USC Trojans from September. Simply put it like this: this team has bought into the one heartbeat, one team motto, and for the first time in a long long time, as a fan, I feel really good about where the program is headed.
Kessler threw for 288 yards, and a TD, while controlling the game and making the plays when USC needed them. Crazy isn’t it? I was watching this game with my homie for life, Adam and both of us were stressed, but not a bad stressed. All credit to Stanford. That’s a top 10 team and I hope the polls don’t drop them too far. Stanford’s defense (Skov and Murphy are All-Americans) is ridiculous. There was one point where USC had 15 yards rushing in the 2nd half. But USC, this USC team didn’t fold like previous teams. SC forced the key turnovers, and made all the plays with the defense and special teams. From the Chad Wheeler blocked field goal after the Kessler fumble, to the Dion Bailey and Su’a Cravens picks (Kevin Hogan made one of the most boneheaded plays I’ve ever seen. 2nd and 2, and you throw it up for grabs as you’re about to get dragged down? Thank you, Kevin. Hope to see you next year) to Andre Heidari finally making a kick that wins it after Kessler threw a slant route to Marqise Lee, and then got a big completion to Nelson Agholor.
As a fan, this was sweet to beat Stanford this year. No, not because it’s been 4 years since the Trojans have beaten them. Everything that the program has been through this year, from the NCAA being lol worthy, to the Kiffin firing, this, this win tonight from USC is the reason they’ll always be my team for life. It’s crazy to me. Like words can’t describe how much this win means to not just me, but to everyone. I cried last night. Just emotional tears of joy because when you see a team battle and compete through adversity, it makes me proud as hell to be a fan. I’ve been a fan since elementary school, and this might be my favorite team ever. No, this team won’t be like the 2003 or 2004 teams and win National Titles. But this 2013 USC Trojans team has done everything right. They’ve played hard for Coach O, and truly fought on.
USC has 8 wins. 5-1 since Coach O was promoted the coaching gig. USC, in a “down” season a month and a half ago has the same amount of wins as the other team across town. Sit on that for a second. USC, with UCLA’s (And a little help from Arizona) help could play for the Pac-12 conference title. At the end of September, I would have never guessed this. But now? It’s purely possible that the USC Trojans could finish the season with 10 wins. Ay yi yi.
No matter what happens long-term or in the short-term, All hail Coach O forever. Coach O for Pac-12 coach of the year. Hell, Coach O for National Coach of the Year. If USC goes 7-1 to end the regular season, how does he NOT get at least one of those? Seriously. I wasn’t that big of a believer at first in Coach O, but after the Arizona game, I bought in with it. If he’s not around the SC program next year, it’ll be okay. The way this season has gone, he’s forever a legendary Trojan in my eyes. Not only is he a leader, he’s letting the guys have fun because he is……… #TheStepfather of the USC program. Fight On, forever Coach O.
So pretty much, USC, thank you for one Saturday on reminding me that no matter what, we’ll always be USC. It’s too early to say that I can smell roses because we don’t even control that (Ironically, UCLA does), but we’re 8-3. With a big time win on National TV for everyone to see that even though we have tough times, we’re USC. God bless, SC. Forever and ever.
If you would have told me a month ago that the USC Trojans would be playing a national televised game on ABC on Saturday Night against Stanford, I would have laughed at you. Seriously. Not just laughed. I probably would have told you to “kiss my ass” and have a slap cam on you.
If you would have told me that Javorius Allen would be called by his actual first name, and not his nickname “Buck,” and would actually be playing (and playing like we need to start the #BUCKFORHEISMAN2014 campaign) instead of riding the bench because the old coach didn’t want to play him, I’d be confused on why he was even playing in the first place.
If you would have told me that Ed Orgeron would actually look like a legit head coach and have the USC Trojans playing like a top 20 team in the country with JUST 47 scholarship players, I’d give you a confused look. Seriously. Knowing Coach O’s history as a head coach, I would have been like, “What the hell are you smoking?”
But here we are. It’s about to be the 3rd weekend in the month of November and USC is heading into a showdown on Saturday Night Football against the #4th ranked Stanford “A Tree is our mascot” Cardinal. As a fan, this season has been ridiculous, and yet SC is still relevant. Once Lane Kiffin was fired for being Lane Kiffin, this team has looked like a different team. Watching SC now is actually fun. Win or lose (They’ve lost one game since Coach O has taken over, btw), this team just looks confident and loose, something that wasn’t seen when Kiff was coaching.
No, I’m not saying Lane Kiffin isn’t a bad coach, Kiffin stans (Okay, maybe I am because since the Arizona game last year in the desert, I don’t know what the hell happened to Lane Kiffin. It’s like he left his own corpse in Tuscon ), I’m simply saying that clearly, his style of coaching wasn’t working for these guys. It’s one thing to be uptight like, say Nick Saban. But in the midst of Saban’s childish temper tantrums, he’s actually a leader. It’s clearly obvious that he (Kiffin) wasn’t a leader. And while Coach O might be an interim head coach, but he’s shown leadership, which is exactly what this team has needed.
Coach O’s motto has been “One heartbeat, One team.” And that’s what it is. Let’s be honest here. 47 scholarship players. Injuries to almost everyone including all-world stud, Marqise Lee. Yet, no complaints or excuses about it from Coach O and the team about it. They just go out, and control what they can control on the field. Think about it, how bad as USC played at the beginning of the season, the horrible loss to Washington State, and the game that got Kiffin fired in Tempe, USC is actually 7-3. In fact, If Andre Heidari could get himself out of his feelings and make kicks, USC would be ranked right now (It’s probably better that they aren’t. Because we aren’t in #GodsConference).
So Saturday. Right…. Saturday. I was watching the Champions Classic two nights ago, and I came across the commercial:
and needless to say, I didn’t bop. I did the money dance. USC hasn’t beaten Stanford in 4 years. At some point, I’m expecting that to end. Last year, I might have jinxed my boys with this,(https://shaunhoward.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/matt-barkley-its-time/), but it’s a new year. Yes, I expect the football nerds to show up and play well. Because that’s what Stanford does. They play their game. Power. Power. Play Action. Hogan quarterback keeps. Power. Stanford’s running back last week had 45 carries against Oregon. 45.
But do I expect the Trojans to play well? Hell yes. Do I expect USC to win? Hell yeah, I do. One of my Twitter followers told me a month ago that even in dark times, SC will always rise up. And that’s happening. With everything that’s gone wrong, this, this season looks like maybe it’s gonna go right. Win or lose on Saturday night, I’m already proud of how these guys and how they’ve proved a lot of people wrong, and have actually fought on under Coach O.
I’m ready for Saturday. I’m ready to watch Cody ball out. I’m ready to this team grow and show the country that no matter how bad the NCAA screwed us over (Seriously though. The NCAA is full of you know what. Reggie Bush’s parents get a house, not him and USC gets the near death penalty. Miami has a dude in the program, and they only lose 9 scholarships for three years. Penn State got their scholarships BACK. But USC can’t get theirs back? Lol, I bet the NCAA is sick that USC is gonna play in another bowl this year even though we’re MAKING them money for being a somewhat decent team for being good with 45 guys. Kiss it, Mark Emmert), no matter the drama surrounding the program and AD Pat Haden looking for the next coach, and all the injuries, that USC is still here. We’re still relevant, and we’re coming for your ass, Stanford (and maybe the rest of America in due time).
It’s time to watch this team party in the endzone. No matter what happens on Saturday, I love you USC. Forever and ever. Fight On. Beat the Farm.
Follow me on Twitter: @kingshaundiz