So we've been telling you all week how we think the Minnesota vs USC matchup could go. We close the day with the opponent's perspective on how they see the game playing out. From the SBN Nation USC Trojans blog Conquest Chronicles here's Joey Kaufman with 5 things you should know about USC Trojans football...
(and if you're interested, check out the 5 things you should know about the Gophs we posted on their site)
1. We’re very sensitive right now
It’s been a long offseason here in Southern California, and because of that, we don’t want to talk about sanctions, NCAA investigations, or Reggie Bush. Seriously. Pete Carroll left on a whim for the Seattle Seahawks in January. Our best offensive player (Damian Williams) and best defensive player (Taylor Mays) both left for the NFL. The NCAA placed the program on four-years probation in June, which included a two-year bowl ban. Hey, we didn’t do anything! Nearly ten upperclassmen decided to transfer in the wake of the sanctions, leaving an already thin depth chart all the more thinner. Our athletic director left (wait, that actually may have been a good thin). And arguably the most popular Trojan of the past 25 years, Reggie Bush, didn’t turn out to be a great guy (gasp). At least, the Heisman didn’t end up in the hands of Vince Young. In short, don’t mention anything occurring before the Sept. 2 opener at Hawaii. To steal a line from our buddy Mark McGwire: “We’re not here to talk about the past. We’re here to be positive.”
2. Nonetheless, it’s tough to know much of anything about this team
After analyzing both games, I still have no idea how to feel about these Trojans. On paper, they look more than adequate. The coaching staff is arguably the best in the country. The roster is still full of NFL prospects at every position. And well, this is still USC – the program with 11 national titles and 7 out of the last 8 conference championships. But the first two games of the 2010 season certainly raised more than a few question marks. In week one at Hawaii, the offense looked great, while the defense was terrible. In week two at home against Virginia, it was the total opposite. This is a completely unique situation for most of these players. How much of an impact are the NCAA Sanctions having on the team? How will they adjust to a new coach and new schemes? As a result, it’s hard for many of us to know how this group will perform down the stretch. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed.
3. Barkley isn’t a baby anymore
And for the record, this isn’t a reference to his loss of baby fat. No, Matt Barkley is simply growing up as a collegiate signal caller. A year ago, he was plagued by interceptions (14) and inaccuracy (under 60%), but two games into the 2010 season, it appears as if he’s already making tremendous strides. Granted, Hawaii and Virginia have never been known for having world renowned defenses, but nevertheless, it’s tough to argue that there isn’t at least some improvement. His passes are crisper, he moves better in the pocket, and looks more sure of himself. In both games, he’s thrown for 459 yards and 7 touchdowns, while completing 65.5% of his passes. If he’s stock, I’m buying.
4. One thing, in particular, makes me uncomfortable about Minnesota
USC has an inexperienced secondary. That’s no surprise. Taylor Mays is gone. So is Will Harris. And both corners, Josh Pinkard and Kevin Thomas, managed to latch onto NFL rosters. Thus, there are a lot of young players starting in the defensive backfield for the first time in their careers, and in two games, their inexperience has been more than evident. This isn’t a comforting fact. Hawaii took advantage of this, throwing for nearly 500 yards. How will Adam Weber respond against the youthful bunch? With a coach with nothing to lose in Tim Brewster, could the Gophers break off some big plays against ‘SC? It’s possible. Maybe, I’m just being pessimistic, but the combination of a coach/quarterback with nothing to lose against a young secondary is not particularly comforting.
5. Nobody at USC is happy (at all)
USC is undefeated thus far. They scored nearly 50 points on the road against Hawaii, and in their home opener, a win was never seriously in question. But regardless of the team’s small taste of success in early September, negative press continues to funnel in and out of Heritage Hall. In the wake of last Saturday’s 17-14 win over Virginia, Kiffin said it felt like a loss and even remarked that he and his staff were “outchoached” by the Cavaliers’ new headman in Mike London. Whether or not Kiffin was being entirely seriously remains obsolete. The fact remains: nobody has been satisfied with ‘SC’s performance thus far. Penalties, missed tackles, and blown assignments, all remain common themes for a rather inexperienced group. The question remains: will discipline and fundamentally sound football return or will these issues continue to hamper the team for the rest of the year.