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Posts Tagged ‘U.S.C.’

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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    Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 3 (Sept. 15)

    Do you remember the last time Notre Dame took a trip to East Lansing? You might not remember the game’s first 60 minutes and change, but that’s fine: things didn’t get wild until overtime, when Michigan State answered a Notre Dame field goal with the most audacious coaching decision of the 2010 season. Now you remember, right? Dan Conroy is lined up for the potentially game-tying 46-yard field goal; Aaron Bates, the punter and team captain, was the holder; tight end Charlie Gantt was lined up one spot inside from the edge to Conroy’s right. The call: “Little Giants.” The snap went to Bates, as expected – and then came the unexpected. You’ll see the rest of the play later tonight, when the Irish and Spartans meet in one of the day’s marquee games. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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      U.S.C. Error Shows Need for Injury Reports

      Earlier this week, U.S.C. announced that Scott Wolf, who covers Trojans’ athletics for the L.A. Daily News, was barred from attending two weeks of practice and would not be credentialed for U.S.C.’s home game against California on Sept. 22. Why? Because Wolf, doing his job, reported on an injury: Andre Hedari, per Wolf, will miss about three weeks to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. U.S.C. didn’t like that; U.S.C., like many others, has a policy that forbids media members from reporting “on strategy or injuries that are observed during the course of watching that practice or result from that practice.”

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        Injuries Level the Field in the Pac-12 Race

        U.S.C. had the quarterback, the wide receivers, the confidence and the hype. But if nothing else, Oregon had one crucial factor in its corner: depth. And not just normal, everyday depth but experienced depth, and even the Trojans’ fiercest backers had to admit that their team – due entirely to sanctions – was lacking in this key category. Knee injuries suffered by free safety John Boyett and offensive guard Carson York go a long way towards evening the score between the Ducks and Trojans, leveling the playing field in a Pac-12 dominated by two teams, U.S.C. and Oregon – and in this competition this close, every player counts.

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          P.S.R. 1-124: Week 3 Re-Ranking

          With the weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the country ranks — using the original rankings as the starting point, with the season’s results as rationale for any movement. The top 25 teams land a one-sentence breakdown. The rest? Not so much. Part of the perks of being one of the best. Think your team is too low? Feel another team deserves more credit, less credit? Let’s hear it below. It’s a delicate ranking process, particularly with only two weeks in the books, so you may see one team ranked below a team it just beat — see Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas, for example. Don’t be alarmed. Everything will become clearer by the end of the month.

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            Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 2 (Sept. 8)

            Let’s not beat around the bush: this isn’t a great week. I mean, it’s great – better than what we’re used to, better than any non-football weekend – but it’s not great, all things considered. There’s no Michigan and Alabama to end the night; there’s no prime-time game on ABC at all, in fact. Instead, we’ll close our night with Nebraska and U.C.L.A., Georgia and Missouri and, later on, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Very, very intriguing games. But with perhaps the exception of Georgia, depending on how highly you think of the Bulldogs, these games don’t carry any title implications. That doesn’t make the games any less interesting – or change the fact that every game, especially while teams find their footing, carries some level of importance. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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              P.S.R. 1-124: Week 2 Re-Ranking

              With the weekend in the books, here’s a look at how the country ranks — using the original rankings as the starting point, with the season’s results as rationale for any movement. The top 25 teams land a one-sentence breakdown. The rest? Not so much. Part of the perks of being one of the best. Think your team is too low? Feel another team deserves more credit, less credit? Let’s hear it below. It’s a delicate ranking process, particularly with only one week in the books, so you may see one team ranked below a team it just beat — see Texas State and Houston, for example. Don’t be alarmed. Everything will become clearer by the end of the month.

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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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                  The Countdown

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