Defensive inefficiencies doom Trojans

first_imgDefense wins games.So is it any surprise that USC lost 32-31 Saturday against the pesky Huskies?The Trojan defense looked utterly anemic this weekend, as Washington quarterback Jake Locker led an offensive charge that picked apart and read USC like a science class dissection lab. Locker threw for 310 yards and a touchdown on 24 for 40 passing and, as if that wasn’t enough, figured he’d run for another 110 and lead the Huskies in rushing as well.I know what people are saying: “We should have made that field goal!” “Lane Kiffin should have called a timeout toward the end of the game!” “Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley should have converted those red zone passes to senior wide receiver David Ausberry and senior tight end Jordan Cameron!”All of those missed opportunities would have helped the Trojans’, but none of them should have been necessary in the first place.Led by defensive greats Monte Kiffin and Ed Orgeron, the Trojan defense coming into 2010 was supposed to be staunch, fortified and revitalized.It certainly wasn’t any of those things Saturday, something all-too evident on the Huskies’ game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.After three uncharacteristic stops by USC to force a fourth-and-11 situation for Washington from its own 23-yard line, the Trojans needed just one more shutdown to walk away from the match unscathed and undefeated.Instead, the Trojans allowed Locker to scramble around in the backfield and somehow find an open wide receiver in D’Andre Goodwin for 18 yards and a first down.Things only got worse from there; as the Huskies ran the ball down USC’s throat, making it embarrassingly apparent (as if it weren’t already) that the Trojans have still not figured out how to properly wrap up their opponent and make a tackle.All that was left to do for Washington was convert an un-iceable 32-yard Erik Folk field goal to all but pull the trigger in an effective execution of a defense that once stood as the epitome of stifling and relentless.The Trojans surrendered 536 yards, and at times it seemed like it should have been more. Several miscues by the Huskies — a Locker fumble out of the end zone and multiple drops by Washington receivers, for starters — prevented them from taking a firm lead in the game, but the USC defense continued to let the Huskies hang around with consistent breakdowns in coverage and poor tackling.What exactly does the problem boil down to?As maddening as it is for Trojan fans to hear, there is nothing to blame other than poor coaching.USC has the talent. But that talent doesn’t always translate into a successful defense when it is stuck running the wrong defensive schemes. The Trojans’ variation of the Tampa-2 defense is a bad fit for the style of players on USC’s roster, and it has left the team playing catch-up in the first half of each game so far this season.The lacking secondary play was, for the most part, masked in the first four games this season because of errors and inability by USC’s weaker opponents. All it took to pull the veil off of the Trojans’ gaping problem was a quarterback who knew how to do so.Enter Locker.Maybe the defense is a ticking time bomb that happened to go off during Saturday’s loss. USC couldn’t get much pressure on the opposing quarterback from its injury-ravaged defensive line either — inexcusably allowing a quarterback to lead his team in rushing with triple-digit numbers.But I’d like to think that it isn’t a personnel problem, so much as it is a gross misunderstanding of the type of players USC has — a problem that, unfortunately, comes with a learn-from-experience type of solution.The Trojans have had as difficult an offseason as they come, but that is only extra incentive to get it done on the field. The tools are there but aren’t being wielded properly.Maybe the Trojans can learn from this loss and use the lessons to its advantage in the weeks to come. Considering it is already five weeks into the season with the thick of the Trojans’ schedule fast approaching, that notion seems less and less likely with each passing day.Here’s to wishful thinking.“One-Two Punch” runs Mondays. To comment on this article, visit or e-mail James at [email protected]last_img

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