The Bisheff Blog
Analyzing and commenting on what's hot in sports

Yes, USC’s Defense Is Really That Bad

Wasn’t it just two years ago that USC had the best defense in the country? Doesn’t it seem like just the other day Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga and Taylor Mays were sprinting all over the field making tackles?

Forget about touchdowns. Opponents had trouble even making first downs against that group. In one remarkable run, that defense went 22 quarters without allowing a TD.

So how in the name of Monte Kiffin did things turn so bad so fast for the Trojans on defense?

It’s a good question, but even an acceptable answer won’t help solve the problem. If 1-2 Washington can come into L.A. and run up 537 yards on the Trojans, what happens when the Stanfords and Oregons get their shots?

You don’t want to know if you’re a USC fan.

Suffice to say Lane Kiffin and his staff have some work to do. Even that might not be enough, though. Truth is, they simply don’t have the quality athletes Pete Carroll had here as recently as two seasons ago. And you know what? It’s not really Kiffin’s fault.

Carroll’s recruiting fell off, along with almost everything else, it seemed, in his tumultuous final seasons. Just take the linebacker position, for example.

The Trojans thought Monti Te’o, the No. 1 rated high school linebacker in America, was all locked up to come to Los Angeles. At the last minute, he switched and picked Notre Dame. Same thing with Vontaze Burfict, who was set to come to USC, before his grades couldn’t get him in and he landed at Arizona State. Te’o and Burfict are two of the better linebackers in the country this year. No one is saying that about any of the Trojans’ linebackers.

The defensive front has yet to be completely healthy, let alone play like it. And the secondary is as raw as some of the language you hear around the Coliseum tunnel after games.

The result is that USC, now at 4-1, is in serious danger of losing a lot of games the rest of the way. In four of the remaining eight, it appears the Trojans will be underdogs now.

The hope continues to be Kiffin’s offense, a unit that still hasn’t reached its full potential, despite scoring 31 points and rolling up 484 yards of its own Saturday night in that one-point upset loss.

At least Allen Bradford seems to have established himself as what he should have been designated all along — the clear feature tailback. All he’s doing is averaging 10 yards a carry while looking like the best combination speed/power back at the school since Ricky Bell.

Matt Barkley didn’t have his best game, but he didn’t turn the ball over, either. It would help if Stanley Havili and Robert Woods touched the ball a few more times, but the explosiveness of this group is unquestioned.

The problem is it won’t matter if the defense never stops the other team. And right now, the chances of anything different happening are not very good.

So get ready for some more shootouts and more uncomfortable moments watching this defensive unit try to stop the likes of Andrew Luck and LaMichael James and Nick Foles, not to mention Jacquizz Rodgers and Jonathan Franklin, among others.

It is a good season if you like offensive fireworks.

But not such a good one if you’re a USC fan hoping to finish the year with 10 or more victories.

*********

A few quick hits after another lively football weekend:

It’s nice UCLA won without Kevin Prince. But come on, you should never be down 28-20 to Washington State, especially at home . . .

OK, so just how good IS Oregon? I don’t know, but I haven’t seen too many college football teams that are better . . .

Imagine what the Ducks would be doing if Jeremiah Masoli were still the quarterback . . .

Washington’s Jake Locker is a great athlete. He is not a great passer . . .

The Jets’ LaDainian Tomlinson is the football equivalent of Vladimir Guerrero . . .

Michigan’s super QB Denard Robinson is putting up pinball-like numbers. He has to be the Heisman frontrunner . . .

All Pete Carroll can come up with is three points against the Rams? I’d guess he’s not too “pumped” about that . . .

The only BCS Championship Game question now is: Who exactly will play Alabama? . . .

— STEVE BISHEFF

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2 Responses to “Yes, USC’s Defense Is Really That Bad”

  1. Kiffin may not have been the architect of the defense, but he would be happy to accept the credit if the unit was playing well. As for Denard Robinson, it is not likely that a player who was not even first string for Michigan at the start of the season could be a Heisman candidate. Looks like another Big 10 (or 11) player who is over-hyped. The teams he has been playing against are not exactly contenders for the national championship.


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