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Posts Tagged ‘Khaled Holmes’

U.S.C.’s Flaws Cut Title Hopes Down to Size

Let’s run down the issues, because they’re numerous, they’re vital and they’ve suddenly risen to the surface, thanks to U.S.C.’s 21-14 loss to Stanford on Saturday night. There’s the Trojans’ offensive line, which fell apart without Khaled Holmes as its anchor at center. Tied into the line play is Matt Barkley’s inability to handle the pass rush – and this reflects more so on U.S.C.’s front than the team’s Heisman contender under center. There’s the offense’s inefficiency on third down, which went overlooked against Hawaii and Syracuse but stood front and center against the Cardinal. There’s the defensive line, an issue today just as it was in August.

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    No. 5: U.S.C.

    Is that all you got? U.S.C. took your best shot, wiped its lip, shrugged it off and kept on moving, strolling past the overly harsh ruling heaved its way by the N.C.A.A. and coming out clean as a whistle on the other side. Sanctions, penalties, crippling sanctions and penalties? Please. U.S.C. is in a better place today than it was before the N.C.A.A. misguidedly threw down its hammer, if you can believe that. The level of swagger is at 2005-like levels. The quarterback is the best in the nation. The backfield has two 1,000-yard rushers. There are two 1,000-yard receivers. The back seven on defense is ferocious. It’s glory days all over again, even if the Trojans were just put under a two-year cloud, and this program shows no sign of letting up now that all systems are officially go. U.S.C. is back, ladies and gentlemen. That the N.C.A.A. tried and failed to take the Trojans down a peg only makes this renaissance all the more sweet.

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      Random Spring Thoughts: U.S.C.

      Using a combination of various computer programs and the Internet — a task nearly beyond my limited computing skills — I selected 25 F.B.S. teams at random. Teams lucky enough to have been randomly selected will be reviewed with several random thoughts as we enter the heart of spring practice. Up next: U.S.C., which must stand up, clean itself off and remove its face from college football’s version of Page Six.

      In the same way that a child in the doghouse escapes his or her parents’ wrath once a sibling steps out of line, U.S.C. is happy to see programs like Auburn and Ohio State enter under the N.C.A.A.’s spotlight. There was a time, if we can think back far enough, when the Trojans were the resident bad boy of the F.B.S. – North Carolina made a late-summer run for that title, but could not match U.S.C.’s blend of star power and misconduct. It’s fitting, in a way, that two such descriptions would intersect at a university that stands on the doorstep of Hollywood, home of the crash-and-burn celebrity. For if we search for a real-life metaphor for what has occurred at U.S.C. since Pete Carroll left town, it’s the Lindsay Lohan-like falling star.

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        The Countdown

        A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.