Sunday, September 14, 2008

Clean up duty after a 35-3 Traveler romp

Wouldn’t it be something if the losing team was forced to clean the horse sh*t off the coliseum track? The Trojans would have only performed this service once in the last 6 years, meaning an entire graduating class would have avoided the foul stench of Traveler’s droppings. Fortunately, there’s a clean up crew to perform that function, and USC opponents can tend their wounds and not worry about public sanitation.

Two storied programs leave plenty of stories to tell, after the Trojans romped 35-3 over the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday night. When you listen to post game interviews or watch game replays, you could see the difference in preparation, with Carroll’s staff receiving an “A”, and Tressel’s failing. Both Mark Sanchez and Rey Maualuga repeatedly spoke of having “great preparation” for the incoming Buckeyes. And for that preparation to be so effective, it would mean the Buckeyes' staff didn’t change much, if any at all.

In reference to the first touchdown of the game, a pass to fullback Stanley Havili, where he scampered down the left sideline and into the end zone, Sanchez said they run that play at least 4 times in practice, against that same defense, and against that same blitz. They also scrimmaged in preparation for both Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor, and Ohio State never showed a wrinkle that proved threatening or confusing to the USC defense.

Offensively, USC didn’t shy away from the hyped defense of Ohio State. The players always believed they faced a better defense each day in practice, and play on the field showed that. With so much talk about the coverage skills of Malcolm Jenkins and the skills of the linebacking unit, the Trojans attacked and exploited their weaknesses, again benefiting from film study. The Buckeyes were the top defensive unit in 2007, and returned all players except Vernon Gholston. That top ranked defense, with loads of experience, appeared defenseless against a Trojan offense that did practically anything they wanted.

Even though Carson Palmer received a lot of flack for his comments about Ohio State, what he said was true. Now the Buckeyes will go back to the Big 10 and people will go back to talking about how great they are. I don’t even fault the players, because the roster is stacked with guys that will play on Sundays. The problem is that the sweater vest gives the appearance of genius, but he’s been severely outcoached by the big names and better staffs outside the conference and in the biggest games. Sure, he defeated Larry Coker's Miami Hurricanes to earn an upset victory and BCS championship trophy. But the last I checked, Larry Coker is still unemployed.

Even a team lesser in athleticism can be coached to a respectable score or victory. But when a team appears so dominant in conference, then ventures out to be destroyed by Urban Meyer and Florida, Les Miles and LSU, and now Pete Carroll and USC, you can’t look much farther than the Buckeyes coaching staff.

Mark Sanchez: “It was like we played this game 10 times already.”

That’s preparation.

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