After a couple weeks of narrow escapes against “lesser” opponents, USC was finally exposed for who they truly are in back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and Utah. Pretending time is over for the supposed “crown jewel” of B1G expansion. USC’s return to glory is still a ways away.
Caleb “The Quitter” Williams?
I think it is more rumor than possibility, but rumors have been swirling about that, since USC is out of playoff contention and Williams is essentially out of the Heisman running, he should pack it in and call it a season. Why risk letting an injury possibly cost you being the top NFL draft pick and millions of dollars?
Because, maybe, just maybe, you have a soul?
I get it with skipping a meaningless bowl game that nobody cares about, but to cut out half of your season would show a serious lack of character and conviction. I would dare to say that it would be teetering on the edge of immorality.
Then again, if he quits mid-season it probably would not hurt his draft stock. But, sometimes in life, you have to do something simply because it is the right thing to do. Sure, there is a very logical reason for him to sit out, but forget it. It would fail the “smell test” so badly that USC fans would think that their noses were stuck in a Bruin’s butt.
Plus, speaking of money, would he have to pay back some of that NIL money? I would think so.
More Defenseless USC Actions
As in, their actual defense. While the 2000s-era Pete Carroll teams had plenty of flash on offense, they were dominant at the line of scrimmage and had a suffocating defense. Today, the offensive flash is still there, but little else. There is just something about the way that Lincoln Riley runs a program that makes them a mediocre to poor defensive team.
This could make talent acquisition a factor moving forward, especially when joining the B1G. Per Rivals.com, Riley did edge out Dan Lanning in their initial recruiting cycle when USC finished 7th and Oregon 9th in 2023. Also, per 247Sports.com, the Trojans edged the Ducks in the 2023 transfer portal by finishing 4th to the Ducks’ 9th-place finish. But, for the 2024 recruiting cycle, Oregon is ranked No. 8 while USC sits at No. 26. (Too early for 2024 transfer rankings.)
Perhaps the year-over-year drop-off is due to recruits being scared away by being stuck on a bad defense. Whereas at Oregon, with Lanning’s Georgia pedigree, they have more confidence in playing for a solid defense and increasing their draft stock.
USC is 2-5 against ranked teams since Riley took over. With Oregon, Washington and UCLA remaining on the schedule, it is hard to envision them doing any better than 1-2 against that trio. USC is looking 8-4 and a low-level bowl game straight in the face. Last season’s 11-1 regular season was a mirage as the Trojans missed both Oregon and Washington. They were a 9-3 team disguised as an 11-1 team. The flame-out against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl was indicative of who USC truly was last year.
A great offensive team paired with a sub-par defense is what Riley’s teams are. There have been no successful defenses under Riley that his current team needs to “get back to.” There is no blueprint in place. Playing good defense is a completely foreign concept to the man in charge at Troy. You would think a coach in his position would surround himself with great defensive minds and recruiters while he focuses on the offense. Goodness knows they have the resources. But, no; the defense is essentially left unattended.
Seven years of head coaching does not lie.
This plays right into the Ducks’ webbed feet as they prepare for the Trojans in two weeks. For as they say, if it looks like a bad defense, is coached like a bad defense, and plays like a bad defense… then it just may be a bad defense.
And, for that, USC, there is no defense.
Top photo credit: X/Twitter
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in technology in SLC, Utah
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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