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Posted Sept. 22, 2009

Conservative Carroll

USC lost to Washington this weekend, and I have to say I am the least bit surprised. USC shouldn't have lost to Ohio State, but the Buckeyes blew it defensively late in the game and didn't create enough turnovers.

This USC team was nothing to be raved about this preseason, and that is why they started out with a No. 8 ranking. I only moved the team up because other teams lost or played poorly (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss).

I really didn't understand why everyone else was high on USC. Sure, they are USC, but they couldn't live up to what their defense did last year. USC's defense is littered with inexperienced players and unknowns - though Chris Galippo looks like the real deal.

USC's offense didn't excite me because they lack talent at running back (I hate Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson from an NFL projection perspective) and were going to be starting a true freshman or an unimpressive Aaron Corp.

The one constant I have seen in USC's losses to mediocre opponents has been that Pete Carroll's offensive game plan never has any balls. Even when Carroll had Mark Sanchez, he was too scared to throw the ball down the field.

USC's offense is just far too conservative and predictable. Defenses aren't kept on their toes and they just bring the strong safety or rover into the box to play the run. Why respect USC's deep passing game if it doesn't exist?

This was why USC was 0-10 on third down. Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian knows USC will throw little slants, hitches and drags, and he didn't respect Carroll to try to throw it deep.

This is why USC lets mediocre teams hang around late and then they get beat. USC didn't choke like Ohio State choked.

USC's defense held Jake Locker to 6.8 yards per pass attempt and Chris Polk to 2.8 yards per carry. USC's running backs averaged over 7.7 yards per carry on the ground. USC ran the ball 33 teams and attempted 22 passes. The offense was very balanced.

The problem clearly is Carroll being way too conservative. Even if Matt Barkley started, I still think Washington wins.

This was why I hated USC this season. They don't have a vertical offense (despite having Damian Williams - how does this make sense?) and they lack experience on defense.

This team was never a national title contender, and now, like I predicted, California is a huge threat to win the Pac-10.

California has one of the best pass defenses in the nation and a stop unit that can contain the run. How exactly will USC win in Berkeley? It isn't going to be by not taking risks. Just ask Sarkisian.

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