Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dilemma at Troy

The sting of USC's embarrassing 10-7 loss to Washington State Saturday night at the Coliseum won't go away anytime soon. Before USC was saddled with the sanctions by the NCAA regarding the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo cases, the Trojans would waltz over a team like the Cougars. It was a made to order win on the schedule.
USC hadn't lost to Washington State since 2002 and hadn't been beaten by the Cougars in the Coliseum since 2000.
But Saturday's Pac-12 loss points to the residue of two issues: the reduction in scholarships that was part of the NCAA's punishment and Coach Lane Kiffin's continued decision to go with two quarterbacks.
Washington State's quarterback Conner Halliday said  last week that the talent level had risen in Pullman, Wash., so much so that players at the university who wouldn't make a good high school team in years past  have now been replaced by those who can compete in the Pac-12.


add USC: Kiffin's play calling seems to be the root of the Trojans' troubles on offense. It is difficult to second-guess coaching decisions in college football because the game is played mostly by teenagers who have academic responsibilities. The game is not pro football, which requires hours of studying a playbook and committing the instruction of that on the practice field until it is honed and installed in time for Sunday afternoon's kickoff.
Kiffin's decision to go with two quarterbacks, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, will have to be altered if USC is to have an offense to contend with. The running game is there, with freshman Tre Madden filling in nicely for the injured Silas Redd, who is expected to be able to play this week against Boston College. But two quarterbacks creates an air of instability
Kessler started against Washington State but was ineffective, which prompted Kiffin to replace him with Wittek in the second half. Kessler was noticeably upset on the sidelines after Wittek went into the game. Replays showed that USC receivers, especially the  All-American Marquis Lee, were well- covered by Washington State's defense, so much so that Lee had just 27 yards in receptions. Kiffin was criticized afterward for not calling for more down field passes.


last add USC: Kiffin announced this week that Kessler will start Saturday's game against Boston College at the Coliseum, but was not specific on how long he will play or if Wittek will also get into the game. Kickoff is at noon on the Pac-12 Network.

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