USC quarterback JT Daniels launching a pass during the Trojans’ 31-20 win over Colorado on October 13th. Photo courtesy of nbclosangeles.com
OUR MID-SEASON REPORT ON THE TROJANS AND REVISED PREDICTIONS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC) TROJANS – 2018 Season After Six Games
Record: 4-2, 3-1 and first place in the Pac-12 South
Rank: Not in AP Top 25 – technically tied for 27th as they have received 53 votes
Last Game: Beat the Colorado Buffaloes, 31-20, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on October 13th
Next Game: Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saturday, October 20th, 5:00 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Network
- JT Daniels, QB (Fr): 1,540 yards, 58.2% completions, 7 TD, 5 INT
- Aca’Cedric Ware, RB: 358 yards, 6.0 ypc, 3 TD
- Stephen Carr, RB: 323 yards, 5.0 ypc, 1 TD
- Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR (Fr): 29 receptions, 427 yards, 2 TD
- Tyler Vaughns, WR: 28 receptions, 330 yards, 2 TD
- Michael Pittman, Jr, WR: 17 receptions, 364 yards, 3 TD
- Cameron Smith, LB: 47 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 1 sack
- Porter Gustin, LB: 28 tackles, 10 TFL (leads Pac-12), 7.0 sacks (leads Pac-12) – Out for the season/USC career due to broken ankle suffered vs Colorado
- Talanoa Hufanga, S (Fr): 28 tackles
- Ajene Harris, CB: 25 tackles, 3 TFL
‘SC running back Stephen Carr getting yardage during the Trojans’ 24-20 win over Arizona on September 29th. Photo courtesy of azdesertswarm.com
Sure, these Trojans have won their last three games.
Sure, they are in first place in the Pac-12 South; just as I predicted.
Sure, they’re starting to gel; again, just like I stated in the preview of this team when I mentioned how the best way to beat ‘SC is to get them early when they’re figuring things out.
When I took a look at the statistics of USC’s key players, except for Porter Gustin, who most unfortunately has seen his star-studded but injury prone career as a Trojan end this past Saturday in the fourth quarter against Colorado when he broke his ankle, thus needing surgery and to now focus on the NFL Draft,
Which is undoubtedly going to hurt the ‘SC defense as Gustin was the Pac-12 leader in sacks and tackles for loss, by the way,
Nobody’s numbers stood out in a “Wow!” and “Whoa!” kind of way.
JT Daniels had one of his best games under center at USC vs the Buffaloes, as he’s on the pace for 3,000 passing yards for the season and (highly likely) Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors that will go along with that.
But seven touchdowns and five interceptions – including two against the Buffs last Saturday night – are not going to strike any pronounced fear in their remaining opponents’ defensive secondaries.
The fact that the Trojans are the Pac-12’s most penalized team, drawing 59 yellow flags for 549 yards at 91.50 yards of infractions a game, doesn’t say much about their discipline, either.
It does say a lot, however, for the stats of your program and the future of such when your leading receiver is a true freshman, as Amon-ra St. Brown (Daniels’ high school teammate and current roommate) is.
Highlights from the USC Trojans’ most recent game, a 31-20 win over Colorado at the Coliseum, courtesy of YouTube (click on the link).
As for the prediction I made before the season of the Trojans winning the Pac-12 South…
Sure, I stand by that prediction.
At least for now.
But as I posted on this blog’s Twitter page after the Colorado win, there are two teams remaining on USC’s schedule that I see them losing to, perhaps in a big way.
Here are those two teams that i see celebrations on their respective campuses after taking ‘SC down:
1. Utah, in Salt Lake City on October 20th (which happens to be the Trojans’ next opponent) – Along with Fresno State, these Utes from Salt Lake City are the college football programs that I have the utmost respect for because of their Rocky Balboa-like toughness and “anywhere, anytime” underdog mentality.
Their overall record matches USC’s at 4-2, and the fact that the game is in Salt Lake in front of what promises to be a capacity crowd of Utah fans so rabid and hostile that the place opposite of Heaven is promised to anyone wearing cardinal and gold,
Off the field as well as on,
Makes it too difficult for me to see the Trojans, especially the freshmen, overcoming that atmosphere.
The next team that I see beating ‘SC is quite the familiar one…
2. Notre Dame, at the Coliseum on November 24th – To put it in a simplistic fashion, these longtime rival Fighting Irish from South Bend, IN is having a dream season to this point.
Not only are they blemish-free as one of only three Football Bowl Subdivision, Power Five conference teams at 7-0 (Alabama and Ohio State are the others), if the season ended today they would be playing the Crimson Tide in the semi-finals of the College Football Playoff, as they are currently ranked fourth in the nation.
And looking at the rest of their schedule,
While USC may well have the Pac-12 South crown in hand by Thanksgiving weekend,
I honestly see no impediment to team of Knute Rockne, the Gipper, the Four Horsemen and Rudy coming to L.A. undefeated and looking to finish that perfect mark in time to be chosen as one of the four teams to be given the opportunity to decide a national championship on the field.
To be blunt, Notre Dame is far better than USC at this point.
An inspiration from USC that even folks from UCLA and Notre Dame have to admire: backup long snapper Jake Olson (right), who happens to be blind. Photo courtesy of news.usc.edu
What about the other remaining teams left for ‘SC to play, Arizona, Oregon State and California?
Three words to start with here…
Win, win, and win.
Probably by blowout in the cases of Oregon State and California, with the Beavers fulfilling all pre-season expectations as far as futility,
And especially those Golden Bears; I mean, come on, anyone who gets the crap beaten out of them by an 0-5 team at home – as Cal did to UCLA this past Saturday,
Adding to that the fact that it’s been fifteen years since the Bears beat ‘SC,
With this year’s game at the Coliseum no less,
Let’s put it like this: it will most likely get ugly, with coach Clay Helton pulling his starters by the fourth quarter.
And speaking of UCLA…
Ask me on Thursday, November 15th.
That’s when I’ll make my official prediction of that annual Crosstown Clash.
Until then, I’m not saying anything.
My bottom line regarding these Trojans the rest of they way?
It will be interesting to see how Daniels, St. Brown, and the rest of the freshmen grow.
A group of Trojans celebrating during their 39-36 win over Washington Sate on September 21st. Photo courtesy of yahoosports.com