USC vs. WSU: Streak Ended

Washington State vs. USC
September 29, 2017 at 7:36pm
Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA: 33,773
Total Time: 3 hours 46 minutes

A short week, road game, and piling injuries spell disaster against a ranked opponent on a week night. There’s no relief in sight as the 12 game slog continues. The 13 game winning streak lies broken in Pullman in what many predicted as the trap game of the season. Sam Darnold played what could possibly be his worst game a as a starter. We all knew it was gonna happen eventually and now it has. The feature image is a representation of the season! That’s how you can look at it.

You can also look at it as a decent spot to lose. A lot of this can be explained away by the selection committee for the same exact reasons: short week, road game, ranked opponent, piling injuries, no bye week—provided the team can win out and be in the conversation at that point. Perhaps the loss will relieve a lot of the pressure that’s been affecting the team. As long as the team regroups and plays better on offense, the ceiling for the season can still be high.


GOOD: Great interception by one of the best defensive players. Uchenna Nwosu decided to play hot potato with an offensive lineman…until he realized he wanted fries with that.

Yeah, I went there. Cardinal and Gold (Soruce: Corpse Reviver, Wikimedia Commons)

BAD: What the—Nwosu gives you the ball at the 3 and you repay him with only 3 points? The next scoring drive is more of the same crap. Drive starts at the 27…3 points.

GOOD: Punter, Reid Budrovich, continues to show competence at the position. Fields strange snaps and kicks far.

BAD: That was the first time in my life that I’ve seen a delay of game penalty on the defense. Of course it’s Pac-12 officials that call it.

BAD: Offensive pass interference on the Trojans at the beginning of the second half. They showed the replay a few times and I didn’t see anything blatant enough to call. I don’t have time to rewatch games anymore, so I can’t say anything for sure. At this very moment, I should be working on two papers that I have to turn in the coming week, but here I am writing this anyway. Anyway, this penalty basically killed the drive.

GOOD: Darnold showing he can still run it.

BAD: The Darnold magic ran out. He must’ve used it all just to get the game tied up.

GOOD: Getting play calls for read options and a QB sneak.

GOOD: Joseph Lewis and Tyler Vaughns had some good catches that game—Vaughns especially.BAD: Allowing more 4th down conversions

BAD: Defense allowed too many big plays. Run defense continues to be a sore spot.

BAD: Too many injuries

CommBro Breaker

At least Washington State is still one of the Pac-12 schools that need a Costco size pallet of wins to even out the series. The series record is 59-10-4. Only USC’s next opponent is worse, with a series record of 61-11-4. Beat the Beavers.

Lottery Stats

Ronald Jones looks to have decent stats. 128 yards on 14 carries, averaging over 9.1 yards per rush. But 70% of that came from a single big run.Take that out and you have 42 yards on 13 carries…an average of 3.2. Doesn’t look so good anymore. No hate or anything. He did well considering he returned from injury. My point is that if the team can’t run and it certainly can’t pass, what can it do? As we saw, the defense can’t carry you through every game. Barely getting 320 yards of total offense does not look good at all. A single player can often have a stat line like that.

Running count of fourth down conversions: 1 of 6
FINALLY, a conversion. On a 4th-and-13, no less. Still kind of a shaky throw by Darnold, but a heroic catch by Tyler Vaughns to keep the Trojans in the game.

Running count of opponent fourth down conversions: 7 of 11

USC vs. Cal: Strawberry Turnover

California vs. USC
September 23, 2017 at 12:43pm
Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA: 46,747 (of 62,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes

‘Tis probably bittersweet for Cal now that their stadium no longer has “Kabam Field” attached to it. The name and branding really didn’t fit the venue, but Cal really needed—and still needs—that money to fund their renovations. If you don’t already know, their athletic department is operating on roughly a $20 million deficit largely due to overly optimistic projections for the renovations. I won’t get into that though. Today, there was a different disaster on the field: Cal’s offense in the fourth quarter.

The stadium isn’t the only thing that got rebranded this year. Former USC defensive coordinator, Justin Wilcox, made the leap to head coach and instilled a new culture within the team. It was apparent through their 3-0 run, beating teams like UNC and Ole Miss. It was apparent throughout the game today.

Quite interesting that Wilcox did well everywhere except at USC: at the University of Washington, the other UW (Wisconsin), and even Cal. Yet he managed to have a thoroughly unimpressive campaign at USC.

It has to make me wonder if it’s something about SC. Were the position coaches not developing the players properly? Failures of strength and conditioning? Mind control nanobots in the LA water? Just baffling. A person can spend their life contemplating these issues and come to no conclusion.

Meanwhile, USC heads into another fourth quarter with the game tied. Had it not been for an offensive implosion by Cal, the win would’ve seriously been in question. Six turnovers and USC wins by 10 points. Great job by the defense, but something needs to be fixed or a loss is impending. Don’t be like 2014 FSU or 2012 Notre Dame.


BAD: Both sides of Cal’s line push SC’s around. Their DL managed to get significant pressure rushing only 3 or 4. They knifed into the backfield early, disrupting a good number of run plays. While the stat sheet doesn’t show a ridiculous number of tackles for loss allowed, I assure you, the damage was there. On the other side, their OL allowed them to run confidently and convert 4 out of 6 fourth downs.

GOOD: That might’ve been the best Pac-12 official crew I’ve seen in recent memory. No super controversial game-deciding calls. They let the people play. Now requesting Mark Duddy’s team for the rest of our conference schedule. Please?

GOOD: On a similar vein, not as many stupid penalties this game. They weren’t swimming in false starts flags like usual.

GOOD:  Deontay Burnett!! Week in and week out, he has been our most reliable receiver.

GOOD: Congrats on Sam Darnold’s first non-multiple interception game of the season.

GOOD: Who is this Uchenna Nwosu guy? Can we give him two scholarships? The outsider linebacker has played absolutely insane this season. He seems to bat or tip a pass every other drive. He also gets credit this game for the weird almost interception fumble.

GOOD: Stephen Carr played a decent game, filling in for the injured Ronald Jones as starter. Outside of the single fumble, he did what he needed to throughout the game.

GOOD: Being able to make a strawberry turnover pun.

CommBro Breaker

3-0 #24 Oregon just lost to 0-2 unranked ASU. Stanford went from losing to SDSU to making UCLA wish they played Memphis again.  An Arizona team that turned the ball over 5 times (-3 differential) still managed to keep it close against #23 Utah. Maybe you just can’t tell what a team will do any given week. Maybe the team will be fine squeaking out wins.

How did that man Wilcox convince a former FBS head coach to serve as his defensive coordinator? Has he become the Saban of the West?!

Lottery Stats

Running count of fourth down conversions: 0 of 5

Running count of opponent fourth down conversions: 6 of 10

Turnovers off of turnovers: 1

USC vs. Texas: Texas BBQ Can Give You a Heart Attack

USC vs. Stanford
September 16, 2017 at 5:40pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 84,714 (93,607)
Total Time: 4 hours 1 minutes

Rey Maualuga led the Trojans out of the tunnel on what many Texas and USC fans expected to be a blowout win for the Trojans. Instead, they had poor Matt Leinart standing in the end zone with PTSD flash backs while Vince Young and Matthew McConaughey were grinning. At that point, we were all reminded that Tom Herman was 6-0 versus ranked teams. I bet thousands of Bruin fans worldwide almost renewed their subscription to the Longhorn Network.

Overtime has not treated USC well since the current overtime rules were instituted in the 1995-96 bowl season. USC was 2-6 in OT games since 1996 and 3-6 overall. The last OT win was under Paul Hackett back in 2000. It’s good to be able to win in OT, whether or not the Trojans should have let it get to that point.

The team showed some grit—something severely missing from teams during most of the sanction years. The entire game tasted like a receipe for an upset once it got under way. I’m sure most people were expecting the big L for USC once Texas scored their go ahead touchdown with 45 seconds remaining.

The defense held the Longhorns to a net rushing yardage of…one and zero points (the points came off a terrible pick six). They did worse in the second half, allowing 10 points, but the offense should have gotten the job done. They scored a net of 10 points through 60 minutes of play. Really not acceptable when you have what so many proclaim to be a future first round pick at quarterback.

Apparently the Trojans only wake up at the end of a half. All their points during regulation were scored within three minutes of the end of a half.

The special teams and offense looked pretty bad for a stretch. After the first interception by the Trojan defense, the offense picked up a delay of game after the change in possession. Not much excuse for that kind of crap. Then it’s followed by a false start and a negative play. The ensuing punt had a bad snap that skipped along the ground. It’s a good thing the MVP punter, Reid Budrovich, managed to field and kick that…only for the coverage team to allow it to roll in for the touchback…

Good: Deontay Burnett made great plays, diving catches. He even had the instinct to bat the ball down to prevent an interception at one point.
Good: Reid Budrovich’s long punts and ability to field a bad snap. He pinned Texas deep in their own terrority and helped the defense shut down Texas for most of the game.
Good: Chase McGrath, the walk-on freshman kicker, missed his first field goal. Not that surprising, given that it was a 45 yarder and first college kick. He follows that up by infalliably making the two highest pressure kicks possible. The first, that sent the team to overtime, even had a suspect hold with the laces out. The second sealed USC’s 12 game winning streak. I feel that I to remind you that those are the first and only successful field goals in his college career. He made up for his miss one hundred times over.
Bad: Some of the special teams play (aside from the kicker and punter) was sloppy.
Bad: Receiver drops continue. One led to a pick six.
Bad: Defensive backs struggled at times during the night.
Bad: Still penalties…especially false starts. How do you go from field goal range to 4th-and-36 around midfield. Nasty.
Bad: Texas stopped the Texas Tesla and Carr by packing box. From one hundred yards rushing each, to less than 100 yards as a team.
Bad: Collin Johnson? Change his name to Calvin Johnson
Bad: So many Texas fans showed up, the Trojans almost lost home field advantage. After Darnold got up from and tried to quiet the crowd…as if he thought the Trojan fans were the one doing it.
Bad: Darnold on a series towards the end of the fourth. He came up looking quite confused and rattled. He proceeded to throw three straight passes on tilt. The last one sailed uncatchably over Tyler Petite’s head resulting in an interception. Flashbacks of John David Booty’s broken finger against Stanford in 2007 came to mind.
Good: In defining moments like the end of the second half and in overtime, legacies are cemented or broken. Would you be known like Leinart for his clutch plays in college—or be lost to history? I think the Trojans answered that question.

CommBro Breaker

Before you do anything else, go grab your 3 sack Big Mac and enjoy the spoils of victory. I have to wonder though, do Texas fans get one too for sacking Darnold 3 times? Eh, I don’t really care. USC picked theirs up on what I call a perfect set of downs on defense: three sacks in a row, forcing them to punt. In reality, they only needed 2 more for the burger at that point, but I’ll take three sacks in a row. Too bad we didn’t get Chick-Fil-A from a blocked kick as well. Not that I would eat either of them out of laziness…

With Stanford’s loss to San Diego State, I’m going to venture to say that Texas might be better than people give them credit for and Stanford worse. That basically means we still don’t know where USC stands after one fourth of the regular season has expired.

Or maybe there’s something to that Body Blows Theory.

Lottery Stat: Since I don’t have time to do some running weekly stat types, I’m just gonna pick one each week and run with it. Whatever I feel like is what you get. Texas had a higher fourth down conversion percentage (66.6%) than third down conversion percentage (25%). USC was 0 for 3 on fourth down conversions while Texas was 2 for 3.

USC vs. Stanford: The Answer to Life

USC vs. Stanford
September 9, 2017 at 5:40pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 77,614 (93,607)
Total Time: 3 hours 11 minutes

You know what I like about USC-Stanford games? The game clock actually runs at a decent pace. The teams usually have balanced drives that actually last a while. It’s like being able to watch a rally in a volleyball game rather than back-and-forth aces.

There isn’t too much I want to say about this game. They really turned it around from last week. Stanford scored less against the Trojans than the Broncos did. Shocking.

Also shocking was getting 307 yards rushing even after losing yards on kneel downs. Forget about it being a rank #14 team…David Shaw coached Stanford teams have allowed an average of 115 yards rushing per game. Being able to put over 300 yards on them in a single game shows the caliber of the running backs and the offensive line’s runblocking. The 307 yards amassed by the Trojans would have been one fourth of Stanford’s total rushing yards allowed over fourteen games in the 2013 season.


Bad-Good: Back-to-back two interceptions is not a good look. The first pick in the game I might let go. Gotta take risks, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. The second one was another into double coverage and had almost no chance of being completed. No more of that, please. On the other hand, he threw four touchdown passes and most of them were superb throws.

Good: Defense did their job, other than one or two big plays allowed.

Bad: This one isn’t on the team. C’mon Pac-12 officials…There were some blatantly bad calls and lack of calls. Seems par for course in Stanford-SC matchups though.

“Clock operator, please reset the game clock to…”

Good: Two one hundred yard rushers.

Good: Continued Deontay performance.

Good: #14 Stanford looks to be the hardest team on USC’s regular season schedule. Barring any surprises, USC just has to remain consistent and healthy. It’s college football, though, and there will always be surprises.

Good: Balanced and complete offense.

Don’t know: USC offense looks like it’s gone through a lot of changes like:

  • Running out of split back sets. Usually, even when they line up like that, they motion one back out before the play starts
  • More RPO plays
  • Speed option play

CommBro Breaker

Ain’t City of Angles if I don’t spit some stats at ye.

This was USC’s largest margin of victory against Stanford since 2008 (45-23).

Oh, and I should probably explain the title. 42—the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

USC vs. W. Michigan: 100 Degrees of Inconsistency

USC vs. Western Michigan
September 2, 2017 at 2:22pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 61,125 (93,607)
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

I was basically hiding for the past few months, but I couldn’t keep myself away now that football season has started. However, things will be in a new abridged format seeing as how I am experiencing a severe time deficit induced by graduate school.

Or maybe the real reason is because I’m having an identity crisis. My new degree is Public Administration, so can I even go by CommBro anymore? Public Admin doesn’t lend itself well to cool puns though. PUADbro? PAbro? Okay, that just sounds like a racial caricature of someone trying to pronounce Pablo. On to the real stuff.

As you can imagine, it was hot as hell so maybe this wasn’t the best game to be in the student section. I miss my old seats in the shade already. I’ve noticed that some traditions have died off since I finished undergrad. It was reassuring to see the section still packed out in the fourth quarter despite the triple digit temperatures—AND  subpar product on the field.

The last home opener loss was a 7-14 defeat at the hands of #5 Florida State back in 1997. That John Robinson’s final season before getting unceremoniously fired. While head coach Clay Helton probably wouldn’t be at risk even if he lost this game, it’s usually bad to come close to breaking a 20 year streak. I really need to speed this up because I have to do homework.

GOOD: No major injuries. Without byes, this is vital.

BAD: Darnold with the 0-2 TD-INT ratio. He underthrew and threw too many risky passes. Both interpcetions were from tips. Perhaps the new release on his throw is affecting his performance?

BAD: While Darnold clearly didn’t do that well personally, high snaps from Nico Falah certainly didn’t help. One resulted in a fumble that was barely recovered.

BAD: You know what else didn’t help? Key third down drops from a lot of receivers.

GOOD: The exception was Deontay, showing that the Rose Bowl performance was no fluke. He has worked hard amongst all the highly ranked wide receivers and has shown that he is the most complete and consistent WR.

GOOD: For a while there, it seemed like the MVPs were the kickers. Chase McGrath, other than one kick out-of-bounds,—which was really close to being a touchback—he had a good, deep kick that launched it out of the end zone. He was also perfect on PATs. I blame the coverage team for the kickoff return for TD. Reid Budrovich punted well without qualification in his debut.

BAD: Defense struggled in tackling, allowing the Bronco running back to break a bunch of arm tackles. Getting Cam Smith back improved the defense, but they were mediocre. The offense did put them in a bad spot though.

BAD: Too many penalties. 9 for 94 yards?! That’s not even counting the yards from offsetting penalties and the kick out-of-bounds. Unsportsmanlike penalties have no place in a team. Also, key penalties revived dying drives, allowing Western Michgan to score.

GOOD: Ronald Jones II was the player on the game. He was back in form, dreads and all. He put up Heisman numbers all while breaking tackles and making large runs. His 8.8 average yards per carry and three touchdowns carried the sickly offense.

GOOD: True freshman Stephen Carr showed that he could excel at the college level, capping off his day with a 52-yard scoring run. On the other side of the ball, Marvell Tell, decided to answer Carr’s score with a pick six, showing Carr that he wasn’t the only #7 in town.

GOOD: JAKE OLSON GOT TO SNAP THE BALL. There are also sweet pics of his dog. :3

PAbro Breaker? Nope, doesn’t work.

CommBro Breaker

Apparently both teams thought they were only allowed one touchdown per quarter until someone told them otherwise in the fourth quarter.

Western Michigan may have went 13-1 last year, but they had a relaxed MAC schedule. I highly doubt that they are even Pac-12 caliber and warranted such a hard fought victory.

The Trojans should have them out and rested their starters. Recall that there are no bye weeks for this team. Meanwhile, perennial contender, Stanford, is coming off a bye week.