Origins of the Eight Clap

Origins of the Eight Clap

Warning: The following should not be taken as historically sound or accurate.

Abstract: In order to understand the etymology of the Eight Clap, one must look further back into history. Across the city, the University of Southern California had adopted the Trojan moniker in 1912. They adopted a curious hand signal that many Bruins mistake for saying they are second place. However, this is a misnomer. The Trojan “Fight On” hand sign is a true counterpart to the Eight Clap.

Back in ancient Troy, Trojans would cut off the index and middle fingers of conquered opponents. This was a preventative measure to stop conquered groups from wielding swords, spears or bows in retaliation. As a result, Trojans would taunt their opponents by holding those very fingers up, as if to say, “Haa, I still have my fingers.” It was a sign of being part of the ruling class.The modern day USC Trojans revived that ancient taunt as they conquered the football fields of their opponents. The Bruins were one of these conquered opponents, which, to this day, have never taken a lead in the series.

As most marginalized groups would, they began to embrace their identity. Since conquered groups lost two fingers, they role-played as if they did as well. In order to account for the ‘lost’ fingers, they invented a clap involving only eight fingers: three from one hand and five from the other. The Bruins would clap this combination together repeatedly in futility. As the clap evolved, they tried to obscure its origins while attempting to keep a semblance of tradition. As a result, the modern day Bruin Eight Clap involves clapping eight times instead of using eight fingers.

Fight On!

Fight On!

USC vs. UCLA: Battle for an Angled City

November 28, 2015 at 12:30pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 83,602 (of 93,607)
Total Time: 3 hours 16 minutes

As the regular season comes to a close, USC finishes 3-1 in November, 1-1 against major rivals, but 5-0 against Pac-12 South teams. USC knocked UCLA out of the polls and climbed back in at #24. They also rise to 8-4 while dropping UCLA to 8-4. Although their records are the same, their seasons will be remembered so much differently. USC advances to the Pac-12 Championship Game next Saturday against Stanford. The winner will get an automatic Rose Bowl bid to play against either Michigan State, Ohio State, or Iowa, depending on how things shake out in the Big Ten. It will be the first time USC plays in the Pac-12 CG, but not the first time they won the Pac-12 South.

Back in 2011, after handing the Bruins the third largest margin of defeat in the series, USC had a two conference game lead on second place UCLA. However, Larry Scott didn’t want postseason ineligible USC to screw up his inaguaral Pac-12 Championship Game, so he elected to have 6-6 (5-4 in conference play) UCLA represent the Pac-12 South. When asked whether USC was the Pac-12 South champ, a Pac-12 spokesman stated, “USC can not own that title. USC can say that it finished first, but not champion. Our division champions participate in the championship game, so UCLA will be considered champion, or co-champions should it finish tied with ASU.” So the barely bowl eligible Bruins faced off against the 10-2 (8-1) Ducks—two teams that USC beat in back-to-back weeks leading up the to the Pac-12 title game.

Before the Bruins even sniffed the field, they applied for a waiver to remain bowl eligible if they lost against Oregon (which they did). UCLA went on to lose to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, finishing 6-8—a record earning them the distinction of losingest bowl team. Those were interesting times.

Speaking of 2011, the 50-0 win against UCLA was the last time USC has won against UCLA prior to the beatdown they suffered on Saturday. The 50-point margin of victory still hasn’t been matched by UCLA during their 3-game win streak. After adding the margins from the 38-28, 35-14, and 38-20 wins, the total comes out to 49. So close. It only took three tries.

The Trojans ended the Bruins’ three game series streak coming out of sanctions and on its fourth head coach in four games against UCLA. What’s your excuse?

The pregame already started favorably, as Slash performed for the national anthem. The Trojans and Bruins fought back and forth with a couple of lead changes. The half closed with the Trojans on top, 20-14. That was when the Spirit of Troy broke out the Star Wars halftime performance, complete with a personalized intro from Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, if you didn’t know). He a dropped a “May the Force be with you and fight on!” at the very end.

The Force was certainly with the officials as nothing went over their heads. They announced every single time there was a jersey switch on kickoffs. Jim L. Mora subjected us to all that referee face time. Heck, the refs might have gotten more time of possession than UCLA did.

One thing is for certain: USC dominated the possession statistic, controlling the ball for 40:01. That’s literally just enough for me to say they had the ball more than twice as long as UCLA did at 19:59. The fourth quarter was probably the most insane. The Trojans possessed it for 13:52 out of the possible 15:00.

Outside of Justin Davis running for 100 yards in the fourth quarter alone, no single player had particularly impressive stats. Cody Kessler had less than 200 yards passing, JuJu had less than 100 yards receiving, and Ronald Jones wasn’t even close to breaking 100 yards rushing. However, they still managed to win by a three score margin. Time of possession, a +3 turnover margin, and being able to score on defense and special teams made that possible. Every phase of the game did their part with no major breakdowns. Even the penalty department was reasonable.

The offense was not doing very much early on, so the defense stepped up and made some great stops. USC had changed their defensive scheme significantly from what they were doing the rest of the season. They went mostly man-to-man with a single high safety in either Chris Hawkins or Marvell Tell. There were also personnel differences like Adoree’ at safety and Porter Gustin starting at rush end. Justin Wilcox brought extra pressure often from the safety spot to get true freshman Josh Rosen off balance. The crowd noise every single third down certainly did him no favors.

A flustered quarterback tends to look for their favorite targets. For Rosen, they are Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte. The duo account for almost 50% of UCLA’s receiving yards and nearly 70% of their passing touchdowns. Su’a Cravens was manned up on Duarte and Iman Marshall on Payton. Marshall made them pay for the targets with two pass break ups and two interceptions—Rosen had not thrown any interceptions since losing to Stanford on October 15. Cravens had 3 pass break ups, Adoree’ had 2, and the true freshment Tell and Isaiah Langley each had 1. In total, they were just shy of double digit pass break ups. Basically, the defensive backs knocked about one out of every four of Rosen’s passes out of the air.

The defense also managed to sack Rosen three times. He was so out of sorts, he even tried to throw to his own offensive lineman. This wasn’t the first time that a UCLA quarterback threw a pass to an ineligible receiver while desperately trying to avoid a sack when their team was losing in the fourth quarter. Back in 2010, the Bruins were losing by 21 with 1 minute to go and Richard Brehaut wildly tossed one up after being hit by Nick Perry. The ball fell into the hands of an offensive guard who then fumbled it into the hands of an offensive tackle. The comical play was taken back by penalty.

All of the defense’s stops set up the special teams and offense to score. The Trojans scored 13 points off of turnovers and even had Adoree’ return a punt for a touchdown. UCLA’s special teams had allowed a mere 6 punt return yards all season. Adoree’ outdid it by seven times, returning it 42-yards for a touchdown and retaking the lead late in the second quarter.

Halfway through the third quarter, Rosen and Paul Perkins led the Bruins down the field to retake the lead. That score at 8:38 in the third quarter would be the last time UCLA scored. A minute and 20 seconds later, Rasheem Green returned the aforementioned forced fumble for a touchdown, restoring order to the scoreboard.

After the offense woke back up, they drove down the field and allowed Darreus to outjump a UCLA DB and stretch out for a satisfying touchdown. After that, it was time for the Trojans to control the clock. On their last two drives, USC ran 20 plays: 17 runs, 2 kneel downs, and 1 pass. That lone pass was a touchdown to tight end Taylor McNamara.

In the waning moments, the Coliseum echoed loudly with chants of “We are SC.” The volume and energy level was something that had been missed for almost two entire seasons.

USC had finally evicted the ungrateful tenant. With that, they resumed ownership of Los Angeles.

Trojan Westwood

They even lit the tree in Westwood for the Trojans.

CommBro Breaker

The work is not yet done. The Crosstown Cup score is tied at 25-25 with the football victory. Also, when the Trojan Knights nab the Victory Bell back, they still gotta give that thing a fresh coat of paint. Lastly, the football team still has to take down Stanford in their extended season. I sure hope they didn’t just get the extra game to have an extra loss. Unlike bowl games, they don’t get multi-week prepartion. It will be a quick turnaround.

Misleading Stats of the Week: Clay Helton is undefeated as head coach against Stanford and in the postseason (because he hasn’t faced Stanford as a head coach and has only played in one post season game as head coach).

USC is undefeated against UCLA in games played before November—all five of them, going 4-0-1.

Bonus Trash Talk

Origins of the Eight Clap

Warning: The following should not be taken as historically sound or accurate.

Abstract: In order to understand the etymology of the Eight Clap, one must look further back into history. Across the city, the University of Southern California had adopted the Trojan moniker in 1912. They adopted a curious hand signal that many Bruins mistake for saying they are second place. However, this is a misnomer. The Trojan “Fight On” hand sign is a true counterpart to the Eight Clap.

Back in ancient Troy, Trojans would cut off the index and middle fingers of conquered opponents. This was a preventative measure to stop conquered groups from wielding swords, spears or bows in retaliation. As a result, Trojans would taunt their opponents by holding those very fingers up, as if to say, “Haa, I still have my fingers.” It was a sign of being part of the ruling class.The modern day USC Trojans revived that ancient taunt as they conquered the football fields of their opponents. The Bruins were one of these conquered opponents, which, to this day, have never taken a lead in the series.

As most marginalized groups would, they began to embrace their identity. Since conquered groups lost two fingers, they role-played as if they did as well. In order to account for the ‘lost’ fingers, they invented a clap involving only eight fingers: three from one hand and five from the other. The Bruins would clap this combination together repeatedly in futility. As the clap evolved, they tried to obscure its origins while attempting to keep a semblance of tradition. As a result, the modern day Bruin Eight Clap involves clapping eight times instead of using eight fingers.

Fight On!

Fight On!




USC vs. Oregon: Duck, Duck, Punt

Oregon vs. USC
November 21, 2015 at 12:30pm
Autzen Stadium: 59,904?! (of 59,000?!)
Total Time: 3 hours 11 minutes

No loss November officially ended on Saturday. As soon as USC climbed back into the rankings, they dropped right back out. It was a record breaking afternoon—in all the wrong ways. USC gave up the most single game passing touchdowns (6) from a QB ever; the most points allowed since losing to Arizona State 62-41 in 2013 (after which Kiffin was fired); and the largest margin of defeat since losing to UCLA 35-14 in 2013. This was in front of a crowd of 59,904, which is over their officially listed capacity. It was all in front of the fifth highest attendance in Autzen Stadium history.

It started with an interception in the endzone, fufilling Vernon Adams’ childhood dream to complete a pass to a USC player.

Jokes aside, things quickly went downhill after Chris Hawkins’ pick. Vernon Adams Jr. finished the first half with 4 touchdowns and over 300 yards passing. He closed out the game with more touchdowns passes than incompletions. Nothing went as planned for the Trojans.

Not even the broadcast went as planned. With the previous game going into overtime, the television broadcast was delayed until halfway through the first quarter. Meanwhile, fans had to watch through WatchESPN which was glitching out for whatever reason. The TV-lifers wouldn’t even have seen the interception, so for all they know, Adams looked error-free.

Adams averaged over 16 yards per pass attempt. The average Oregon scoring drive was 4.62 plays, spanning a 62.38 yards. The average touchdown drive was even less: 4.17 plays and 62.17 yards. USC, on the other hand, had three 9+ play drives end with a punt or loss failed 4th down conversion.

Like I’ve been saying, this slow start stuff wasn’t gonna cut it against better teams. A better team hit USC in the form of Oregon. The Trojans weaknesses were finally exploited to fruition and it was just ugly.

Embarrassingly bad blown coverage was a problem on a few of the Oregon touchdowns. It’s one thing to get beat one on one because a backup is unable to physically unable to keep up. These were a much bigger error. Just take a look at the frame below. As the ball is making contact with the receiver, there is nobody within a 10-yard radius of Evan Baylis.


If a receiver catches a ball on the field and no DB was around to see it, was it really a catch? -NFL Refs

Adoree’s helmet didn’t even peek into the screen until both of Baylis’ feet were on the ground. He took it straight to the house to reestablish their lead. It was the first play from scrimmage for that drive. It’s crap like that that allowed Oregon to go on a 24-point scoring run spanning the 2nd and 3rd quarter.

USC’s offense had a few good drives, but ultimately were not consistent enough. Instead of catching up on points, they let dumb penalties catch up to them. A kick-catch interference was bad enough, but it also offset a roughing the kicker penalty. That ultimately cost the team a first down, forcing Albarado to punt again. Another drive killing penalty was Chad Wheeler’s personal foul penalty turning a makeable 4th-and-1 into a 4th-and-16. Instead of making up for it, he comes back out and has a false start before the next drive even started. Then the other tackle, Zach Banner picks up a false start. It’s 1st-and-20 before they could get a play off. In total the team had four personal fouls and four false starts—things that are easily avoidable. Having 12 penalties for 124 yards—both season highs—is not a winning formula. Surprisingly, they were able to get past that 1st-and-20, but it was something else they could not recover from.

Cody Kessler made a costly choice on the ensuing 1st-and-10 low snap. He ain’t Russell Wilson, bro. He’s either got to fall on it or throw it away. Instead he tried to roll out and make a play. That ended in a fumble and a quick touchdown by Oregon. Had the Trojans drove down and even scored even a field goal, it would’ve been a one score game. Instead, it became a three score game. With so little time and so many points to catch up on, the USC offense became increasingly more one-dimensional. A pass was expected pretty much every down, and that’s what they did. A predictable offense like that is pretty ineffective. That fumble was so crucial. USC couldn’t even score again that quarter.

On 4th-and-3, down 17 points in the 4th quarter, the team elected to punt. They had a little over 10 minutes to score three times when it took them almost 50 minutes to do that previously (on offense). That punt was basically a surrendering. The defense managed to hold Oregon to a field goal, but the damage was done. With less than 7 minutes and behind three scores, they had no shot, barring a string of miracles longer than the distance from LA to Eugene, Oregon.

While not a miracle, Adoree’ Jackson finally scored on special teams this season, this time returning a punt 41 yards for the touchdown. He also called for a fair catch for the second time in his college career, which might be more of a miracle. However, he had a mistake early, muffing a punt, but Iman Marshall hopped on it like a Black Friday deal.

Justin Davis’ overall performance was great as well. None were better than his run 25-yard run into the red zone in the 2nd quarter. I think I saw something like that before. No, not Kalen Ballage’s run against UCLA. I saw them do that in the Ender’s Game movie first.

CommBro Breaker

By some stroke of luck (shame on you if you cheered for UCLA), Utah lost their game, allowing USC to maintain control of their destiny. However, UCLA is in control of theirs as well. An unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Who will win? Who will represent the Pac-12 South in the Pac-12 Championship game against Stanford?

Double CommBro Breaker

Sounds way too dramatic. It’s more like an inconsistent force meets a semipermeable object. But still, WHO WILL WIN? Jim Mora Jr. plays against the fourth USC head coach in four years, two of them being interim. Both teams have struggled at times against beatable opponents and each have enough injuries to fill up a hospital ward. One of them will hobble to the finish line against Stanford to get roasted by Christian McCaffrey. Doesn’t that sound better than the CommBro Breaker?

Misleading Stat of the Week: 

If USC somehow manages to beat Stanford and UCLA, they will somehow manage not to be the losingest Pac-12 champion and certainly not the losingest Rose Bowl participant in history.

John Robinson’s 8-5 USC squad in 1993 actually had a 6-2 record in conference, tying both UCLA and Arizona. All three were recognized as co-champions, but USC was unsurprisingly unranked. UCLA went on to lose to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, while Arizona defeated Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. USC beat Utah in the Freedom Bowl.

There have been three previous teams have played in the Rose Bowl with 4 losses. They were 1963 Washington (6-4), 1977 Washington (7-4), and 1983 UCLA (6-4-1). However, 2012 Wisconsin snuck in at 8-5 when both Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible to play in the postseason. So again, USC would not be the worst team (record-wise) to play in the Rose Bowl.

Why is this misleading? Because that unranked 2012 Wisconsin team somehow managed to take down #14 Nebraska in the 2012 Big Ten Championship game—by a margin of 39. The final score was 70-31 and Wisconsin amassed two 200-yard rusher and one 100-yard rusher. So while the Trojans would have a better record than that 8-5 team, it might be difficult to say that they’re better than that.

USC vs. Colorado: A Win is a Win Part 2

Colorado vs. USC
November 13, 2015 at 6:00pm
Folsom Field: 37,905 (of 50,138)
Total Time: 3 hours 6 minutes

Another week, another nailbiter, but another win. That’s 4 straight wins, 2-0 in November, 4-0 in the Pac-12 South, and 10-0 all time against Colorado. A no loss November and Pac-12 title still remain a possibility. I’m sure it was a lot closer than most would’ve imagined, but, again, this isn’t the Colorado team that you’ve known in the Pac-12. If you look at their record, you might think it’s more or less the same, but if you look closely, this was a team that lost a bunch of close games to superior teams. They were also fighting for their first bowl berth since 2007. With 6 losses, this was effectively an elimination game—and it showed.

The first drive started out promising by USC, but quickly derailed. After getting down to the goal line, a fumble followed by questionable decisions wasted a red zone possession. Going from 2nd-and-1 to a field goal is fairly disappointing. You can almost taste the points at the one yard line. USC would not score again for over 25 minutes of game time. Meanwhile, Colorado jumped to a 14 point lead in between. I guess you can only ask for so much when both teams made the field look like a Slip N’ Slide.

Overall, USC’s offense punted five times in the game. Sadly, four of them were 3-and-outs and the fifth was only four plays long. So many of the Trojans’ drives don’t even get off the ground. Almost all the drives that made it past the first set of downs ended in points. It’s feast or famine with this offense.

The pre-Thanksgiving feast took place right after halftime. A third down sack forced Colorado to punt the ball back to USC. The Trojans put together a 13-play, 83-yard drive touchdown drive, culminating in a pass complete to a fullback (wow). That was just the beginning. A fortunate stretch—brought to you in part by Delvon Simmons—allowed them to retake the lead early into the fourth quarter. The first play of Colorado’s ensuing drive turned into a tackle-for-loss and fumble caused by Simmons. The Texas Tech transfer wasn’t done after that. After the offense capitalized via a pass to a tight end (wow) for the first lead of the night, Simmons blocked a game-tying field goal attempt that was returned to Colorado territory by Adoree’ Jackson. A quick 36-yard strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster gave USC its last taste of points. The seven points in drought-ridden California would start a period of famine seven (x2) minutes long, like Egypt’s seven-year famine and drought. Must be ILLUMINATI!


The green represents the grass on the field. The eye represents the shape of the football. And of course the pyramid represents the Egyptian famine. It was foretold.

No secret society caused the subpar special teams performance. A 39-yard punt was offset by a 45-yard return by Nelson Spruce and a personal foul penalty to set them up at 2-yard line. The touchdown was practically gifted to Colorado. This is where I have to inform you that USC has allowed an embarrassing average of over 15 yards per punt return, ranking in at #122. Bad punt coverage exacerbated by less than mediocre punting (rank #88, averaging barely over 40 yards per punt). Just as an aside, since we’re talking about kicking…

USC is tied for #9 in the nation—FOR KICKOFFS OUT-OF-BOUNDS. Let us come together and celebrate our top ten statistic. And just because Poe’s Law is always in play, I must emphasize that you shouldn’t celebrate because this is not a positive thing. Interestingly enough, opponents also kick out-of-bounds a lot against the Trojans. USC’s opponents must really believe in sportsmanship and evening out playing field! Or Adoree’ is so feared as a return man that opposing teams would rather risk kicking out-of-bounds than let him return it. Thank your local USC opponent for making the Trojans tied for #2 in opponent kickoffs out-of-bounds! And Adoree’ finally called for a fair catch for the first time in his USC career! But back to the team’s weaknesses.

The offensive line has improved, but isn’t to a point of being comfortable. They still can’t find themselves a penalty-free game, with Damien Mama picking up a false start. Losing Viane Talamaivao isn’t going to do the unit any favors. The continued sweet combo (commbro?) of Kessler experiencing phantom pressure and bailing out of the pocket early makes their job that much harder. Then throw Ronald Jones II in the mix for pass protection issues. There’s no doubt that Jones runs the ball well and has even improved his catching ability. However, he still has a lot to learn in pass protection. On a key third down, he allowed a free rusher to sack Kessler. That’s why he’s not in the game every play. Also because Justin Davis is a good running back. Davis’ final run of the game was big-time stuff, going untouched on 3rd-and-8 to effectively ending the game.

CommBro Breaker

While the 21-0 run in the former part of the second half is impressive, the Trojans can’t keep relying on the same formula against better teams. They couldn’t pull it off against Notre Dame. It may not work against Oregon, and probably will not work against UCLA. They will show up ready right out of the gates.

Oregon is 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12—just like USC. Both Oregon and USC will be going into the game with a 4-game win streak. One of them will end in Autzen. The difference is that a Pac-12 division title is out of reach for Oregon while USC is in the driver’s seat. That should be a motivation for the Trojans to play their best against what looks to be a fully recovered Oregon offense. Might be difficult with Cam Smith and Lamar Dawson out with injuries.

Misleading Stat of the Week: 37.5% of Taylor McNamara’s catches have been touchdown receptions! (8 catches, 3 TDs)

USC vs. Arizona: A Win is a Win

USC vs. Arizona (Homecoming)
November 7, 2015 at 7:30pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 76,309 (of 93,607)
Total Time: 3 hours 11 minutes

CommBro Breaker

At a 6-3 overall record, USC is now bowl eligible for the foruth year in a row! Had the unjust postseason ban not been in play, the 2010 (8-5) and 2011 (10-2) teams would’ve connected the current streak with one that started in 2001. That would’ve been 15 consecutive bowl appearances, which would tie for the sixth longest active streak. Unfortunately, the NCAA sanctions were a reality, so the Trojans must now build off the 28th longest active streak.

Also, the quest for no loss November begins 1-0! Three games to finish it off. For the first time since 2010, USC is also 2-0 against the Arizona schools.

And the Trojans are also [Misleading Stat of the Week:] the only undefeated team in the Pac-12 South—against other Pac-12 South teams. It’s not that misleading. As long as the Trojans win out, they will own tie-breakers against ASU, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and UCLA. That means if all of them have two or more losses, USC will represent the South in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Arizona, Colorado, or UCLA need to upset Utah. Cross your fingers or something. I’m not superstitious so whatever man.

/CommBro Breaker

Now time for some analysis. Obviously, the start was uglier than a 3-foot long roach. Four possesions, three 3-and-outs, and a fumble. Two of those drives netted negative yards. Two 3rd down sacks by the defense kept the game within reach, but things looked bleak. USC closed the first quarter down 0-7 and had -22 rushing yards. Yes, negative rushing yards. It took only 4 seconds into the second quarter for the Wildcats to make it 0-14.

The Trojans drove down the field to the have a 1st-and-goal at the 8…to come up with a field goal. Just when you thought the Trojans could maybe do something, they waste a goal-to-go situation. I said at the time, the offense would not wake up without a big play by the defense. An interception or something. Then Plattenburg delivered and Kessler throws a bomb to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 72-yard touchdown. Maybe they heard me.

I started making jests about on-side kicks—then Alex Wood and company actually attempt one. I was only joking, but there’s no way they were listening to me, right? What really took the cake was when I was griping about the Jumbotron showing a bunch of selfies. “I want to some some stats, yo!” A simple request, which surely only the friends and the air could hear. The switch is made and the selfies are gone. Like I said, I’m not superstitious…but…I’ll take it!

I will also take the win. The Trojans came back from a double-digit deficit and won despite a fourth quarter deficit. The deficit was only 5 seconds long, but technically right is still right. It didn’t have to be that way though…

Down 20-17 in the third quarter, USC drove down to the Arizona 25-yard line with a chance to tie or take the lead. They did neither. Instead they took looked confused and took two timeouts. Maybe USC should steal its own signals. Is this no-huddle thing really doing the team any favors? After all of that, they come away from the red zone with no points, making Alex Wood 8-of-12 on field goals this season.

The defense continued to hold up Arizona on key drives. The Wildcats entered the game #10 in the nation in rushing yards per game (265 ypg), but were held to 60 yards—averaging a mere 1.9 yards per carry. Granted, they were able to put up a lot of pass yards, but forcing Anu Solomon to throw led to some errors (like the interception). They were also able to sack Solomon six times.

On the other side, the offensive line managed to only allow two sacks, despite having a fairly even run-pass balance (40 rushes, 36 passes). However, this unit picked up two out of the team’s eight penalties. Both were for false start. One of them came at a steep price: a nullified touchdown. At least they managed to give the running backs some room to run though. Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II combined for 262 yards on 35 carries (7.49 average) and two touchdowns apiece.

Jones is indisputably a major factor in the win. He set freshman records with 177 yards on 19 carries, finishing with an astounding 9.31 yards per carry. He was actually averaging 10.6 ypc after his 74-yard touchdown run. Although it’s certainly not as impressive as Marshawn Lynch’s run in the 2011 NFL playoffs, it reminded me of it. There seemed to be no scenario in which either of these running backs would break a couple of tacklers in the open field, but they pull it off and get the touchdown.

Jones’ receiving touchdown is worth noting too. After seeing all of our running backs and fullbacks drop a bunch of passes, it’s good to see Jones improving and making the catch. Steven Mitchell’s crucial block allowed Jones to take it in for a touchdown as well.

Justin Davis shouldn’t be forgotten about either. His two touchdowns came at critical moments. One capitalized on a fourth down stop and took to first lead of the game. The second capped off an 11-play, 5 minute drive that all but put the game away. Arizona still had a chance to score a touchdown, recover an on-side kick, score another touchdown, go for two, and then win in in overtime. So…

Basically one of these situations.

Basically one of these situations.

Finally, let’s not forget about JuJu Smith-Schuster. After getting surgery on his hand early in the week and not practicing, he seemed to pick up right where he left off. He continued his dominance, notching his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season. The best part is that Smith-Schuster only dropped one despite major lingering pain in his hand.


Coliseum Cropped

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has accrued a plethora of historic tales. Being eight years (or 5 coaches, if you prefer that unit of measure) short of hitting its centennial anniversary, you would probably expect as much. In the end, that very historic value could very well be a ridiculously oversized speed bump in the renovation plan. But that may only be part of the problem. If you haven’t been to the new website, go take a look at it now.

Fancy renderings and flowery language obscure some glaring issues with the proposal. What they also fail to mention is that the estimated $270 million project will reduce the seating down to 77,500—a reduction of 16,107 seats.

They'll never know the difference!

They’ll never notice the difference!


The seating reduction alone garners significant attention. Currently, the Coliseum seats 93,607, making it not only one of the largest college football stadiums, but one of the largest football stadiums in the nation. The proposed plan would drop the Coliseum from #9 in the US to #25. Do they want it to mirror our university’s US News ranking or something? If that’s what they’re shooting for, they still gotta move up two spots to #23. Even if you take out all the NFL stadiums, it still comes up to a paltry #21. This would also concede the disctintion of the largest stadium in the Pac-12 to UCLA. See for yourself in the chart below:

US Football Stadiums College Football Stadiums
1 Michigan    107,601 1 Michigan    107,601
2 Penn State    106,572 2 Penn State    106,572
3 Ohio State    105,994 3 Ohio State    105,994
4 Texas A&M    102,733 4 Texas A&M    102,733
5 Tennessee    102,455 5 Tennessee    102,455
6 LSU    102,321 6 LSU    102,321
7 Alabama    101,821 7 Alabama    101,821
8 Texas    100,119 8 Texas    100,119
9 USC (Current)      93,607   9 USC (Current)      93,607
10(9) Georgia      92,746 10 (9) Georgia      92,746
11(10) Rose Bowl      92,542 11 (10) Rose Bowl      92,542
18(17) Oklahoma      82,112 17 (16) Oklahoma      82,112
20(19) Notre Dame      80,795 19 (18) Notre Dame      80,795
25(24) Redskins (NFL)      79,000 21 (20) South Carolina      80,250
(25) USC (Proposed)      77,500 (21) USC (Proposed)      77,500
26 Jaguars (NFL)      76,867 22 Michigan State      75,005

*Red denotes adjustment for post renovation.

Every single blue blood program boasts a seating capacity of more than 80,000: Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame. Even fringe ones like Tennessee, Penn State, and Nebraska. At least be bigger than South Carolina! We already have to put up with their, “We’re the real USC” crap now. Imagine if their stadium was bigger than ours too! If that’s an impossible task, can we at least get 80,000?

Is this sending a message to the world? Has the university or athletic department decided, like Stanford, to simply drop football’s priority level a few notches? Stanford dropped the number of seats in their stadium by over 30,000 during their renovation about a decade ago. It would be sad to see a USC’s football program, so rich with tradition and history, relegated to such a position.

The home attendance numbers have certainly dipped after Pete Carroll left for the NFL (refer to chart below), but how by how much?

Home Attendance Numbers
2008-Present Post Carroll 5 Year
Total 3,879,420 2,849,868 2,370,424
Average (rounded) 79,172 77,023 76,465
# of times below 77.5k 20 19 17
Total # of games 49 36 30

A quick glance at these numbers might have you thinking that the 77,500 might not be too bad of a number. Ever since Pete Carroll left, average attendance has been under that amount. Hell, a little more than half the games would not be a sellout even with the smaller stadium size. That type of thinking is flawed though. Averages don’t really work well in this situation.

About half of the games are above the 77,500 limit, including six sellouts. That means there would’ve been boatloads of money left on the table for those games. I hate math, so we’ll do an extremely conservative estimate. We’ll set the price of tickets to be $75 each (face value for a nosebleed seat in a rivalry game). So if a rivalry game swould’ve sold out, that’s $75 x 16,107 seats for a total of $1,208,025. That’s $1.2 million in revenue you would’ve missed out on for a single sellout rivalry game. Keep in mind that a significant number of the seats they’re taking out aren’t nosebleeds, they’re the donor seats that were under the press box. Will the new personal seat licenses and luxury suites make up for that?

Also note that this would mean packing out some terrible seats in section 27-29, 33, and 1. They are behind the band seating and pretty far from the field.

Tack on that these are some of the most tumultous times in USC Football history. The first two midseason head coach terminations in USC’s 127 year history just happened within the past two years. Unprecedented and unjust sanctions were handed down about five years ago. With more stability, and a winning team, the attendance would easily average above 77,500 again. As long as we don’t get a repeat of the 1990s, all should be well before long.

Take a gander all the way back up at the stadium size chart. USC’s company in the US Football Stadiums side? The Washington Redskins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. It appears USC is positioning the Coliseum to be a venue for an NFL that comes to Los Angeles. That’s great and all, but are we really mortgaging the future for a team that is going to be here for 3-5 years at most? They’ll bring in some money, but they’re gone as soon as they get their new stadium.

All in all, these plans seem a tad short-sighted from my perspective.

CommBro Breaker

Since the Coliseum has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, only so many alterations can be made to the structure. Perhaps that has something to do with these limited plans? I know they have to make ADA compliant stairs, with railings and such. And some of the aisles definitely need widening. Furthermore, the Coliseum Commission left the place in a mess and its tough to bring together the money to get such a large project done. I understand all that, but I was still expecting something less…underwhelming.

At best, we can hope that this is just a short term plan to get some money from NFL tenancy, which they can use to do some more drastic overhauls down the line. Maybe it will draw the 2024 Olympics, incentivizing the government to sink some money into it. All I’m saying is maybe there is something I’m not seeing here. If you got inside information that makes me look like an idiot for speculating, please contact me. I’m a reasonable person (most of the time). I will gladly rescind this post and replace it with a giant “I’m wrong.” Otherwise, I don’t want the Coliseum shrunk down to 1930s size.

USC vs. Cal: Running to Win a Fight

Cal vs. USC
October 31, 2015 at 12:00pm
Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium: 52,060 (of 62,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes

USC rises to 5-3 and Cal drops to 5-3 overall after a match that was probably too close for comfort. There was nothing really flashy about it, but the 27-21 win was nothing to scoff at.

Sure, Cal has been kind of Pac-12 cellar dweller for the past few seasons. In the previous three, they combined for only nine wins—the same as USC had in 2014. However, that does not tell the story of their upward trajectory. One thing’s for sure: this isn’t the Cal or the Pac of years past.

Cal started the season 5-0 before falling to then #5 Utah. Despite Goff throwing 5 interceptions and six total turnovers, Cal managed to be in a position to drive down the field at the end, threatening to score for the win. It took a 4th down stop by Utah with 30 seconds left to seal the game. Had they managed their drive against both Utah and USC, they’d be staring down at you with a 7-1 record.

UCLA was in the same position against an actual cellar dweller the past weekend. Although Colorado sits at just a single conference win, they were a lucky bounce or two away from taking down Arizona and UCLA. That’s just the nature of the conference at this point. What I’m trying to say is, you should take this conference win and be happy.

Considering that some people thought we wouldn’t have any more wins after that Washington loss, things are looking pretty good. One more win until bowl eligibilty, four more wins and a Utah loss for a Pac-12 South championship. Speaking of Utah, there was also no post-big game letdown this weekend.

Coming into the game, Cal was scoring an average of almost 38 points per game. Take out that 73 point smackdown against Grambling State and Cal was still averaging 32 points against FBS opponents. USC’s defense held them to 21 points, which is a season low for Cal. It’s also only the fourth time they’ve been held to 21 or fewer points in 21 games. Okay, that was a cherry-picked stat. I’m sorry, I’ll save that for those for the CommBro Breakers. I just wanted to make it 21 without busting.

I might have been misleading when I said there was nothing flashy. Adoree’ Jackson’s 46-yard interception return could qualify. Amazingly enough, it was his first career interception at USC. Furthermore, it finally completes the trinity of touchdowns for Jackson: offense, special teams, and defense. His return was sprung by a couple of good blocks, including two by Chris Hawkins. In the end, he traveled quite a bit more than the listed 46 yards after weaving back and forth through traffic. Meanwhile I had trouble moving 1 yard to get out of bed this morning.

The ridiculous fumble recovery by Leon McQuay III. It looked like one of those cliche moments in film/TV shows where someone gets a football dropped into their hands and everyone piles onto him/her.

Just mentally swap the uniform colors

Just mentally swap the uniform colors

Luckily, it was a positive thing in this situation. Another positive was while the defense was out there creating turnovers, the offense managed not to turn the ball over for the second week in a row.

The Trojans are currently tied for #1 in fumbles and tied for #3 in fumbles lost. Not bad for a team that has tried to run so much recently. The USC offense run-pass balance (50-23) fell heavily in favor of the run game, spending over 68% of their plays rushing the football. All the running made this the shortest game of the season so far. As fun as it is to watch USC Football games, I don’t need games dragging on for three and a half hours so I’ll take it. Just keep winning and I’d be completely fine with every run out of the I-formation or something. The Trojans controlled the clock throughout, holding onto the ball over 11 minutes more than the Golden Bears—almost giving Jared Goff enough time to save money on his car insurance.

The tough running at the end inspired a lot of confidence in the team. Two of the team’s six 3rd down conversions came off run plays in the final drive. The team’s second touchdown off a 4th-and-1 at the Cal 2-yard line was another great example of the improvement.

The penalty department wasn’t great this game, as the Trojans got penalized 6 times for 65 yards. Two were from the offensive line, breaking their streak after a penalty-free game against Utah. Both were on Zach Banner after his switch back to right tackle. Hopefully, this does not persist.

CommBro Breaker

Stats are fun and stops me from ending on a negative note. Don’t read too much into it. This isn’t baseball.

USC (#34, 21.6 ppg) is almost identical in scoring defense to Utah (#32, 21.4 ppg) Stanford (#33, 21.5 ppg). These three teams are #2,3 and 4 in Pac-12 scoring defense.

Top Stats:

#2 in defensive touchdowns per game (0.5)
#3  Completion Percentage (70.3%)
#6  Yards Per Pass Attempt (9.5/att)
#8 in opponent 4th down conversions (3/12, 25%)

Misleading Stats of the Week:

The Trojans are #1 in kickoff return touchdowns allowed! (Too bad they are tied with 94 other teams with zero allowed.)

But sadly they are #113 in kickoff return yards allowed. They allowed 790 yards!!! WOW THEY SUCKNOT. In reality, only four teams in the nation have had more opponent kickoff returns than USC’s 42. This is probably a combination of USC scoring a lot and Alex Wood kicking it towards the front of the end zone. The special teams has decent kickoff coverage, ranking #24 in average yards allowed per kickoff return (18.81).