Runtime: 2 hours 1 minute
Budget: Estimated to be $30 million
So I caught the film while it was still on limited release. As a result, I’ll try harder than usual to keep it spoiler free.
First off, I decided to watch this because:
The trailer looked interesting
I like the cast: Blunt, Brolin, Del Toro, Donovan
The ratings were high
The acting was good stuff, but pacing was almost a problem at some points. Thirty minutes in, I still felt like it had just started. There were also weird parts thrown in that I would call incomplete. If you’re gonna include it, at least flesh it out a bit more.
The movie focuses around the Mexican-American border, drugs, guns and other things. One thing’s for sure. They know how to create tension. Many of the scenes were exhaustingly intense. The intensity was broken up every now and then with humor, mostly from Josh Brolin’s character. There’s nothing revolutionary or crazy about the plot and I don’t think it’s as good as the ratings suggest. It was worth a watch, but it’s not something I’d do again. I would go back to listen to the soundtrack, though.
Don’t go in expecting an action movie, because it’s not even close to being one. It’s also not a movie about a bunch of people partying in Tijuana or Cabo…in case you were wondering.
ASU vs. USC
September 26, 2015 at 7:30pm
Sun Devil Stadium: 61,904
Total Time: 3 hours 8 minutes
I don’t think anybody was that coming. Las Vegas oddsmakers expected a 4-point Trojan win. Maybe they meant to say a 4 touchdown win.
If you told someone the Trojans were gonna pitch a first half shut out—especially following that defensive performance against Stanford—they totally would’ve thought you were hard trolling.
ASU was largely considered to be a contender in the Pac-12 South during the preseason. Sure, they had a rough outing against Texas A&M. Then those two option heavy teams in Cal Poly and New Mexico gave them trouble at first, but they managed to get those wins. It was difficult to gauge where they were at from these three games. In fact, we still can’t really evaluate enough. They could bounce back and take out some other Pac-12 team. Many people counted Stanford after their excrutiating loss to Northwestern…
Don’t get too comfortable with this win though. Just look at what UCLA and Utah managed to do in their conference matchups. Utah did to Oregon, what Oregon used to do to them. And wow, look at me. I’m doing exactly what the commentators did at the start of the second half: chatting about every other game that had happened in the nation other than the one I’m supposed to follow.
Back to USC…I’d be stupid to say I wasn’t impressed or satisfied with a blowout win—or just a win in general. This was also USC’s first win in Tempe since 2009. However, the Trojans still had their fair share of mistakes this game. Without all the extra help from ASU miscues, this game could’ve been a lot closer.
If you were wondering whether the Trojans could pick up more flags than last week, they gave you an answer. They outdid their previous 8 with 10 penalties for 91 yards. On the other side, ASU had 2 for 25. Some were extremely costly despite the small amount of yardage. An offside penalty on third down ended up gifting ASU a first down. A pass interference on fourth down was even worse. There was also a baffling offside penalty on Iman Marshall. When’s the last time you heard of a non-blitzing corner get called for that. It got declined though—because he picked up a personal foul later that play.
USC had more flags than this store. Probably.
The defense also still had trouble stopping the run. Furthermore, there were occasions that tight ends were wide open in middle of the field. Ultimately, some great defensive plays and a little bit of bad luck on ASU’s part made it moot.
We must credit the Trojanswith improvement though. ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici looked uncomfortable the entire night. A lot of pressure provided on linebacker blitzes forced errant passes. At some point, I’m not sure what was creeping up more, the linebackers up to the line, or the midriff line of the Song Girls’ tops.
Seriously though. (Photo credit: Screenshot of ESPN broadcast)
Adoree’ Jackson was also afforded with a few snaps on offense—and he utilized them fully. He led the team in receiving yards despite only having three catches. Nobody can say he didn’t earn those yards. Kessler threw short passes to him and he made plays in space. He is too good to not play on offense…
Jackson tacked on punt returns of 8 and 45 yards, to bring up his all-purpose yards to 184. If you do that math, he netted the team about 36.8 yards every time he touched the ball. Sadly, his 45-yard punt return with the added facemask penalty was wasted by a turnover.
Kessler’s fumble near the goal line and interception during the first drive were USC’s first two turnovers of the season. Luckily, the team had four takeaways to end it with a positive turnover margin. Unfortunately, both of USC’s turnovers happened in the red zone.
Again, these mistakes ended up not mattering in this game. Kessler more than redeemed himself. On one particular play, he avoided two would be sacks on third down to toss it off to Justin Davis for the first down. The offense he led is now averaging 8.06 yards per play, which is good for #3 in the nation. Third down conversion was phenomenal as well. Not only was their pre-garbage time third down conversion percentage great, but they managed to convert some longer ones.
USC has converted third downs of 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 15 yards. It has converted 9 of 14 total in the game.
ASU’s plan seemed to set on shutting down USC’s run game. I think they did a commendable job with that. They were also able to sack Kessler a couple of times. Too bad the passing game answered with big play after big play.
Remember how ASU was able to score 3 touchdowns in under four minutes without getting onside kicks and no timeouts? USC had their own version at the end of the second half. USC was up 14-0 with less then 4 minutes until halftime. If I had stepped out to take a phone call or something, I would’ve thought ESPN messed up the score again. 35-0? What?
When it looked like ASU was going to score, Delvon Simmons shot through a gap and hit the running back during the exchange. The resulting turnover was remniscent of another USC safety playing on the road.
Then the kickoff returner, De’Chavon Hayes, hesitated, but decided to take it out of the endzone anyway? Clown move, bro. Bad enough to start at the 5-yard line, but to tack on a fumble?
Maybe it’s a curse for switching to Adidas. If it is, I hope UCLA gets the same Adidas curse.
At the close of the game, USC’s offense ranks #8 in points per game. The defense ranks #25 in points allowed per game (tied with Alabama). Not a terrible position to be in, but they must continue to improve. They will face three teams in the current AP top 10 later in the schedule: #6 Notre Dame, #10 Utah, and #7 UCLA.
What’s interesting is that Sark got it right about two teams, it seems.
Whatever pill Sark had at the Salute to Troy event, it must’ve given him prophetic abilities. Maybe it was one of those NZT-48 limitless pills from the show we kept seeing commercials about. No wonder he would keep that a secret from the media. Time to see if Notre Dame lives up to Sark’s prophecy.
USC vs. Stanford
September 19, 2015 at 5:00pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 78,306
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Fig A. Wilcox’s play sheet
Let’s just get right to it. The last time USC won out in September was in Lane Kiffin’s first year (2010). September losses have pretty much become a habit with the Stanford capping off a five year streak.
Speaking of 2010, that’s what USC’s defense looked like. Stanford was completing passes all over the middle of the field and running it up the gut successfully. It was as if we had a 4-0-4 formation on defense since the linebackers were nowhere to be found! Just kidding, that’s mean. Outside linebacker Su’a Cravens made a lot of plays and was one of the redeeming factors on defense.
Although the transitive property doesn’t really work in college football (or football in general), here’s something to think about:
How does USC’s defense allow more points than a Central Florida team that goes on to lose to Furman. The Furman Paladins are in the same FCS conference as the Wofford Terriers, which even Idaho could beat.
Despite continued subpar play by the offensive line, Cody Kessler managed to string together respectable drives and decent numbers. Bad snaps and a run game that eventually faltered. Sure, he made mistakes
Kevin Hogan had one of the best games of his career. Although his statistics are comparable to Kessler’s the stats don’t tell the entire story.
I’d venture to say that if Kessler had the same amount of time in the pocket as Hogan, the USC offense would probably never have punted.
With the time of possession slanted (angled?!) heavily in Stanford’s favor, it was hard to get on the field and score points. Stanford controlled the ball nearly twice as long as USC did. Who would’ve thought USC would get caught in a shootout with Stanford? No side produced any turnovers and both teams had nine meanginful possessions, so it came down to punting, turnovers on downs, and being held to field goals.
Turnover on Downs:
So if we do the simple math, if USC had one less turnover on downs and punt, they would tie Stanford. Suppose one went for a touchdown and the other was held to a field goal. The score would’ve been tied.
USC would routinely forced a third down situation and Stanford answered by converting an astouding 66.7% (8/12) of third downs. Had USC stopped them two more times, this game could’ve been extremely different.
Alternatively, had the offense converted some more of their own third downs, the outcome would’ve been different as well. Going 4 of 10 on third downs isn’t pretty, but it’s hard to ask an offense to do much more than they did. Let’s be honest. Kessler’s stats are probably still Heisman worthy. In three games, he’s thrown 89 passes and completed 78.7% for 922 yards, 10 TD and 0 INT. He has also continued to improve on things he has been criticized for. For one, he took off and ran for the first down when the lane was there. That 18 yard run set up the touchdown to retake the lead.
Unfortunately, his underthrown swing pass to Tre Madden earlier in that drive is what ultimately killed USC’s running game. After running successfully in the first half, Madden, fell awkwardly after making the catch. He would not run the ball again. After the running backs picked up 126 yards in the first half, they posted a measly 22 yards in the second half.
What’s more concerning is that the offensive line couldn’t protect Kessler on numerous occasions. Their pass blocking remains one of many weak points for this team. The line also picked up half the teams penalties (4 for 45), all by the returning starters Chad Wheeler, Zach Banner, and Max Tuerk. Some of them like the personal foul were completely preventable. Those costly penalties quickly caused drives to stall out.
That wasn’t the end of stupid penalties though. There was stupid stuff like an unnecessary holding that got Adoree’ Jackson’s kickoff return called back. To make matters worse, they tacked on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. What would’ve been a touchdown, quickly became starting within their own 10-yard line.
Through the first two games, the Trojans picked up just nine penalties. Against Stanford, it came out to eight—and that’s not counting all the offset and declined penatlies.
The defensive line could not create enough pressure with a standard 4-man rush. Furthermore, Hogan had a wide open left edge when he was flushed out of the pocket. Had Hogan not get rolled up under Anthony Sarao at the start of the second half, he may have exploited the lack of contain on the left edge many more times. Regardless, Hogan threw some of the best passes of his career and certainly the best he ever played against USC in three tries. On multiple deep passes he had perfect touch, making them pretty much indefensible once in the air.
Needless to say, Sark needs to get together with Coach Connelly and Wilcox to work on some things.
CommBro Breaker (some things to make you less depressed)
Only three teams haven’t turned the ball over this season: USC, LSU, and West Virginia. Both LSU and WVU have only played two games to USC’s three.
No kickoffs out of bounds this week!!! Special teams win!
Wide receivers have been blocking really well—better than they have been in years. They have turned some standard runs into big gains. On JuJu’s 54-yard catch and run, Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell Jr. threw key blocks.
Double CommBro Breaker
Misleading Stat of the Week: USC is last place in the Pac-12 standings.
USC vs. Idaho
September 12, 2015 at 5:00pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 72,422
Total Time: 3 hours 18 minutes
USC gets a nice primetime slot for week two despite a less than stellar matchup. Too bad it was on the Pac-12 Network for the second week in a row—Sorry DirecTV customers!
As USC runs through what seems like the entire Sun Belt conference, they averaged 57 points and 7.5 points allowed per game. Those numbers will fall back to more realistic levels as the Trojans face conference foes.
Again, there’s not too much that you can extrapolate from the team’s play at this point of the season. Some of the big things are:
The kicking game. Another kickoff out of bounds?
Adoree’ finding out when to call for a fair catch.
The defense needs to figure out what they’re doing for the first drive of the third quarter.
All of that stuff is kind of negative, so let’s take a look at everything else instead.
Although Adoree’ Jackson played sparingly on offense, all but one of his offensive touches went for first downs. The single play that wasn’t got only 8 yards. Take a look at the highlight of one of his plays below:
His catch and run at the 1:33 mark of the video shows what this crazy man can do. The Idaho defense took almost 20 seconds to bring him down despite Adoree’ coming to a complete stop at one point.
Kind of reminds me of this run…
Jackson may need to be a bit more conservative on special teams though. If someone sprinkled in some bad luck, the jump from last week and the fair catch no-calls this week could’ve ended up being disastrous, momentum-changing moments. Even if potential injuries don’t scare him, fumbles are still a thing.
Another receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, had a career night with a 192 yard, 2 TD performance. He tops the team in all-purpose yards—both in total yards and yards per game….even though all he does is catch. But what was with that penalty? I would never have expected Smith-Schuster to get unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Yet, there it was, a 15-yard variety after Idaho scored their first and only touchdown.
Luckily, Cody Kessler and the offense responded quickly in the ensuing 6 play, 1:37 drive. After doing a short dump off, Kessler completed five straight passes of 10+ yards to get the touchdown. It was as if the fight song never stopped playing.
Kessler finished the night with 410 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and only 2 more incompletions than touchdowns. Even more notable was that he completed two passes that were thrown for over 20 yards. This was a good sign considering how the main criticism from last week was him missing deep throws.
Kessler’s 7-0 touchdown-interception ratio is the best in the nation at this point. Three quarterbacks have more touchdowns, but also have more interceptions:
Seth Russell (Baylor) 9-4
Matt Johnson (Bowling Green) 8-1
Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) 8-1
Unfortunately, no USC running back is close to being at the top of a national stat chart. However, that speaks more of the running back depth than the ineptitude of play. The Trojans allowed all five of their scholarship running backs some carries and were vindicated with five rushing touchdowns. The group had 29 carries for 248 yards, averaging 8.55 per rush. When including the walk-ons, it still comes out to 35 carries for 285 yards averaging 8.14 per rush. When you can run like that, you can do anything you want.
Out of all the running backs, true freshman Ronald Jones II was the one that stood out the most. He had some good runs between the tackles and broke some longer runs. Late in the second quarter, Jones’ 31 yard touchdown run was nullified by a holding call on Max Tuerk. That run likely would not have been sprung if not for the holding, so it was a legit penalty. During the fourth quarter, however, it was like some kind of sick game for the officials. How many times can they deny Ronald Jones II of touchdowns? Even after a review, they wouldn’t give him a 45-yard touchdown run. Instead, they called it a 44-yard run with Jones going down at the 1-yard line. Sad times. Your Pac-12 officials at work.
Overall, the USC offense compiled a nasty 737 yards of total offense. The last time they got even close to that was when Leinart, Bush, and the 2005 USC team destroyed Arkansas with 70 points and 736 yards. Times have certainly changed.
The defense played decently for most of the game. A couple of rookie mistakes led to some big gains and scores from the Idaho offense. I say, let them have it. How many of you guys can even name the Idaho starting QB even after seeing that game? I already forgot his name…Poor guy.
There were some things like the pass intereference penalty and corners, linebackers, and safeties getting caught out of position. With so much youth on the roster, these things should be solved as time goes on.
I bet all of you wanted a bunch of potato jokes and puns, but I won’t deliver. Pretty much every place that serves french fries doesn’t deliver. HAH. Okay, it stops there. And you guys wonder why their mascot is the Vandals? I would become one too being the butt end of so many jokes about my state. Instead, let these useless stats fill up your head. One day, while you’re taking your exams, you won’t be able to remember what Grice’s Maxims are, but you will remember these useless week two stats about USC. What’s that? You didn’t know what Grice’s Maxims were in the first place? Should have been a comm major.
Completely pointless stat: USC has as many first downs as points per game (57).
Misleading stat of the week: USC has stopped 100% of points after touchdowns Context: USC has only allowed two touchdowns so far this season. Arkansas State failed to convert their 2-point conversion and Idaho’s kick was blocked by Claude Pelon.
USC vs. Arkansas State
September 5, 2015 at 8:00pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 79,809
Total Time: 3 hours 12 minutes
Let’s start with this: WHY is it an 8:00pm kickoff? I mean, I prefer night games, but by the time we got out of there, it was literally a different day. You want to keep people in seats and from changing the channel? How about not making it end close to 3:00am on the East Coast?! I guess it isn’t as bad as the Hawaii-Colorado 10:00pm start time, but that’s like saying mice have it better than rats. Well, let me tell you, when the landlady is chasing you down with raid and a giant broomstick, you would probably wouldn’t feel the difference. No, it’s not a firsthand experience.
Once you get over the late start, you might ask “Why is USC playing a relatively unknown school like Arkansas State?” Well, you know how Texas A&M beat down Arizona State the past week? It should’ve been USC beating down Texas A&M, but they decided not go through with the scheduling. Perhaps it’s to preserve their now 15-0 (now 16-0, after beaint ASU) record against non-conference opponents since joining the Southeastern Conference. Trying to find a last minute replacement, especially one that does not dip into the FCS realm, not exactly easy.
And while Arkansas State is a Sun Belt team, their four year record is about the same as USC’s. They aren’t as big of a cupcake as most people think they are.
Yeah, yeah they are trending downwards and USC wrecked them…but leave the CommBro Breakers™ up to me, alright? Just read the damn chart.
Now that I’m done complaining about logistics and losing sleep, and you’re done griping about the competition, I can talk about the actual game.
Spoiler alert, the final score was 55-6. Not a bad score line, but 55 isn’t exactly typical. USC had to fail a PAT to get there. But it all works out because it pays homage to the former 55 club linebacker, Keith Rivers, that led the Trojans out of the tunnel. Maybe they let it get blocked on purpose. Yeah, probably not.
The stat of the day is 3-25. That’s 3 penalties for 25 yards. In the previous season, USC averaged 8 penalties for 78 yards per game (115-1023 total). There weren’t very many stupid penalties this time around and that’s good. The three were:
15-yards: Personal foul by Antwuan Woods for hitting the QB during an interception return
5-yards: False start by Chad Wheeler
5-yards: Delay of game on 4th-and-2 first drive of the 3rd quarter
I would consider that fairly disciplined for the first game of the season and Pac-12 refs that are usually itching to chuck some yellow pieces of cloth. There were also no gaffes with the constant substitutions. These are all good signs. The most costly was probably the delay of game penalty. It quickly changed their plan from going for it on 4th down to punting. You can’t do that against stiffer competition.
Chris Hawkins deserves recognition for his play in the game. His switch to safety has paid off in a penalty-free opening. A common criticism of him was that he always drew pass interference and/or holding calls. His flaws were overstated, but the move has worked for him. He accumulated a total of 5 tackles, a fumble recovery, and an interception returned for 20 yards. While we’re talking about defense…
Running quarterbacks are still a problem for USC. Defensive ends and outside linebackers have not been up to par with setting the edge. Arkansas State quarerback, Fredi Knighten, managed to break a few longer runs for first downs. Luckily, they were only able to score once.
On the other side of the ball, the offense had a decent showing. However, they still needed to punt six times and went 0-1 on 4th down conversions in 14 meaningful drives. There has been a lot of chatter about the unexpected allowance of 5 sacks. People will be quick to blame the offensive line and new coach Bob Connelly, but I’m not going to focus on that. One game is too small of a sample size.
One thing that should be noted was that the four sacks came in the first half (two in USC’s second drive of the game). There was only one sack in the second half. Perhaps with Clay Helton calling the plays, Sark was able to work with Connelly and the rest of the offense to make some worthwhile adjustments.
Tre Madden’s big run in the 2nd quarter was from a power formation. The combination of a great block by the fullback, Jahleel Pinner, and downfield blocks by the offensive linemen and receivers allowed Madden to take it to the house. Good to see that formations utilizing fullbacks are still a thing.
USC has not been great at beating the betting spread since the sanctions. This time, they beat it by almost double.
I wish I could write about a lot more from this game, but unfortunately, I am out of time. It’s already Wednesday night and I’m just barely finishing up. Let’s be honest, most of you probably didn’t even read the whole thing or skimmed it. It’s only the first game of the season anyway. Trends will reveal itself and more interesting things will happen.
Until then, savor the misleading stat of the week: the USC defense is only allowing 6 points per game
Runtime: 2 hours 27 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $28 million
This biopic about several rappers out of a south LA suburb turned out to be a compelling movie. It provided a good general picture of the rise and fall of the N.W.A. and the West Coast rap scene. The movie did run a little long, which could be an issue for those who are uninterested or uninitiated to rap and its history. Also, the party scenes, while not to the level of The Wolf of Wallstreet, were overly gratuitous at times.
Towards the end of the movie, you could tell how much influence Dr. Dre and Ice Cube had over it. They were the two most generously portrayed characters. I hesitate to say that biographical films shouldn’t be made until involved parties are deceased. While there is a lot of potential for meddling and awkward moments of “they represented me badly,” perhaps its for the best. It prevents a completely embellished and inaccurate portrayal for the sake of maximizing entertainment. Movie-goers should continue to take these things with a grain of salt. What you can’t deny is that a couple of guys with little to no hope made it out their hometown in a big way.
Overall, I would recommend everyone give this movie a try. It was well-written and quite interesting.
The movie featured portrayals of people with connections to USC. Snoop Dogg was (is?) a longtime fan of USC’s football team. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine donated $70 million to start the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy at USC. Jerry Heller actually attended USC. Aaaaaaand Ice Cube was in Boyz n the Hood, which…had a character that wanted to go to USC. Totally not a stretch. Fight on…