Conquest Chronicles hosted the roundtable this week. I'm tardy, as usual, getting my reply up, but here it goes:
1. Let's start off with a conference wide question. With USC's loss to Oregon St. on Thursday, is the myth (which I never believed) of USC and the 9 Dwarves finally shattered? Does this game help give the Pac-10 more credibility nationally? If not, why are those anti-Pac-10 bigots wrong?
I think that the story has been "USC has fallen" instead of "The Pac-10 is better than we thought it was." We all know that USC isn't the same as SC teams of old. Many of their games have been competitive. They've lost to Stanford at home. They've lost their last three trips to the state of Oregon, twice to the Beavers and once to the Ducks. But, here's the thing: they still win the conference in the end. That is really what's driving the national perception here.
The fact of the matter is that not since the 2002 season has someone besides USC been a BCS participant from the Pac-10. From 1996-2002, we had every Pac-10 school except Cal and Arizona in a BCS Bowl. From 2003 on, its been only USC. And, regardless of the results of a few individual games, until that changes, it'll still be seen as just SC and everybody else.
2. Now that we are 5 weeks into the season, everyone should have a pretty good feel of how their team is performing. Tell us one or two things (good or bad, on offense or defense) that you're seeing that has surprised you about the performance of your team.
I don't think any of the positives have been surprising. We knew that the run game and the play on both lines would be very, very good. The only real positive surprise to me has been the play of Terrance Scott.
But there have been two surprises that have been very, very bad. One is the play of the secondary. An awful lot of receivers have been open and we lost the BSU game in large part due to their inability to adjust to the play action pass. For a unit that we were touting as maybe the best in the country, they really need to step up and show us more.
Also, the QB situation. Who would've though that we'd be decimated by injuries, playing a fifth string quarterback for the second year in a row. We'll never be anything more than mediocre without consistency from the quarterback position.
2a. More important, how much more of a snapshot do you need to really see where your team is headed this season?
I think I answered that here.
3. As evidence of Thursday night's big Oregon St. win, it's pretty clear that the Beavers have USC's number up in Corvallis. Who's got your team's number in the conference, and why?
Arizona has inexplicably beaten us twice in a row. However, unlike Cal and Oregon State, who've done the same, Arizona has no talent, which makes it much more improbable and infuriating. Plus, they've knocked out our stud starting QB two of the last three seasons (Clemens and Dixon). If I saw Mike Stoops drowning in a river, I'd toss him an anvil.
4. Everyone has a bad loss so far this year, even if it's just one. What did that one loss expose about your team, and how has your team bounced back?
It wasn't so much that the team we lost to was bad, as much as our play was putrid. Some of that we couldn't help. Masoli getting knocked out early left us with a fourth string situational QB and a fifth string redshirt freshman. Our offense predictably struggled. However, the secondary getting roasted and toasted by play action struck fear in us because that was supposed to be the strength of the team. Our team bounced back by pounding WSU, which tells us absolutely nothing. This weekend against SC will be a much better assessment of where we stand.
5. 5. To me, play-calling from play to play is over emphasized, when adjustments over the course of the game are key. How are your coaches doing throughout the course of games? Are they doing an adequate job of making the necessary adjustments, or do you feel they are hampering the players in their efforts?
That's hard for me to answer, because I think its somewhat of a mixed bag. Offensively, I feel like we usually make good adjustments. For all the crap MB and CK took over the BSU game, that situation was hardly their fault. Ditto the Arizona game last year. I think that the second half adjustments have been very good under Kelly, one only need to look to Crowton's second year, or any year under Ludwig, to see how bad they once were. The SC game in '05 is the quintessential example.