Second viewing thoughts and grade report: UCS
Due to Pac 12 Network restrictions, I did not get to DVR the game nor access it online. So the following is based purely on what I saw live. Watching the game might have calmed me down a bit (it usually does). Overall I thought the talent gap was alarming, but the team still didn't play to their potential. If you're going to pull an upset, you need to play your best and hope the other team collapses. We didn't get that.
If we planned on winning it would have taken a great effort from Rettig. It was just ok. He was really conservative in his deep throws early and didn't challenge much in the middle of the field. It was almost as he was avoiding risk too. His protection was terrible but he needed to settle down a bit when he was still in the pocket. The best part of the day was his long run. We can use that play again.
Like Rettig, Williams didn't get much help from his OL. But he didn't do anything special either. Rouse looked good but he was also going up against the backups. I liked Willis' burst. I liked throwing it to Dudeck. He didn't break anything but he's got good hands.
We finally passed to the Tight Ends. Naples, Parsons and Miller all had catches. That will be key going forward. Amidon wasn't thrown to much. Because I didn't get a chance to watch it back, I don't know if he was having issues getting open. Crimmins had a brutal drop.
The Oline didn't look lost. That was an issue under old regimes. But they did look slow. Over and over we kept getting beat on stunts and twists. We also couldn't pull and trap fast enough. Much of that pressure came up the middle. (I would have more specifics comments, but couldn't get all the line play breakdowns live.)
We had a gameplan that wasn't working and didn't really have great adjustments or counters. USC was too fast and too strong upfront and kept blowing up our runs. But he didn't make them pay with a Rettig run or misdirection until we were down by 28. We need to run counters early to keep them honest. I also think he needed to try passing a bit more.
Above I referenced the issues on the Oline. The defensive line wasn't much better. We got pushed around and didn't make many big plays. Where was Edebali? Or why didn't Abdesmad look as good? Is Ramsey ever going to be a game changer? Those were all noticeable on Saturday. Mihalik forced a fumble and looked okay at times. Wujciak played a lot and hustled but couldn't get much penetration or disruption.
Early in the game KPL looked great. He covered a lot of ground and was covering up others' mistakes. Later in the game he wasn't as near the action. Since I didn't get to watch the game back, I don't know why he wasn't as active. The announce team praised Daniels. I thought he was uneven. He looked good a few times and recognized some plays early. But he also seemed slow and out of place at other times. Divitto looked slow too. Keyes played a bit and was okay. Later in the game, I thought the backups -- including Strizak -- showed some promise.
Asprilla got targeted repeatedly. Under normal circumstances I would welcome that. Saturday wasn't normal. Asprilla played too far off and missed a key tackle on Lee's 80 yard TD. Jones didn't get targeted as often and played less. ALJ was back and seemed capable of running with USC's talent. I thought Sylvia played well and tackled well. Rositano wasn't as active.
It seemed like we were conservative on defense early. I don't want to say "bend but don't break" but we played way off and gave the Trojans plenty of cushion. It was only later that we started to get a little more aggressive and finally get some pressure on USC. I can sort of justify the safe approach when you prepare for a talented team, but think an aggressive approach from the first snap would've been better for us.
Special Teams: B+
Freese's punts were the best part of our day. He pinned them back and gave us a chance with each possession. Our return game could use some spark. Maybe we will get it because Willis had a nice run on the late Kick return.
We have talent issues. We've known it a few years and Addazio all but admitted it during all his preseason interviews. We needed a miracle and some lucky breaks to win and didn't get them. I don't really blame Addazio for the loss. But I do have concerns about the Offensive Line play and our slowness to adjust the gameplan once we were down 21.
Great coaches are not perfect every week but do make their team better than it should be. BC is not at the place yet. Addazio has a few more rough games coming up. I hope he uses this game as a learning opportunity so that the next time we face an elite team, we win.