By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com
In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.
It’s a beautiful thing: Ask most Trojans fans their definition of a perfect day and they’ll tell you anytime UCLA and Notre Dame lose on the same day, which happened on Saturday.
It’s a beautiful thing – Part 2: If you’re a Trojans fan, watching the Irish lose in an absolutely excruciating manner at Clemson and UCLA bowing to Arizona State late in the final quarter was pure cardinal and gold nirvana. However, still to be determined is how the Trojans fare against the Irish and the Bruins, and that’s in the future and all that will be remembered.
Reality check: If the No. 17 Trojans defeat Washington on Thursday night and No. 15 Notre Dame (4-1) rebounds against Navy on Saturday in South Bend, the next chapter in the intersectional class between the Irish and the Trojans will still have huge College Football Playoff implications. It will be a CFP elimination game for both teams. If there is such a thing, the Trojans lone loss to No. 16 Stanford (4-1) and Notre Dame’s first 2015 defeat at No. 6 Clemson (4-0) were quality losses.
Reality check – Part 2: No. 20 UCLA losing to Arizona State (3-2) at home in the Rose Bowl, however, won’t be considered a quality loss unless the Sun Devils win out the rest of the way.
Looking ahead: Based on Sunday’s AP poll, the Trojans have a future opportunity to make a case for a CFP spot in the Final Four if the can win at Notre Dame (Oct. 16), Utah (Oct. 24), at No. 23 Cal (Oct. 31), and No. 20 UCLA (Nov.28). And it would be shocking if Oregon doesn’t some how manage to return to the Top 25.
Finding Adoree’: This week Steve Sarkisian answered a question about the explosiveness of Adoree’ Jackson. Sark said, “We have to find a way to keep getting No. 2 the ball.” One of the questions a lot of Trojans fans had after the Stanford loss was why Adoree’ didn’t play offense? Well, you can bet if the Trojans see the Cardinal again in the Pac-12 title game, A.J. will see the ball aplenty.
Finding Adoree’ – Part 2: And if Adoree’ doesn’t see the field on offense or see the ball “aplenty” now or in the future, it won’t because A.J. is refusing to go in on offense if you get my drift.
Finding Adoree’ – Part 3: The reality is that Sark remains in a Catch 22. If he puts an emphasis on getting Jackson the ball, he needs to play him more on offense, which could weaken his defense in the latter portions of the game. If he doesn’t play Jackson on offense, especially in big games, the Trojans might not be able to outscore opponents in a shootout.
Thursday night madness: Although it hasn’t turned out to be as bad as predicted, a college football game in downtown Los Angeles on a Thursday during rush hour still is unpredictable.
Attendance count: Seriously, if you were a student at USC, would you go to a night class if the football team were playing during the week in the Coliseum? Well, I know I wouldn’t and if I were a USC professor, I’d figure out a way to allow my class to attend the game.
Parking problems: Perhaps the biggest problem for Thursday night games is that normal “game” parking and tailgating won’t be allowed on campus and will put a bigger burden on the surrounding area parking options. Of course, if you have enough cash, the private parking lot sharks next or near the Coliseum will be happy to accommodate.
From the press box…
Discovery Island: Over the generations, the Trojans have had some dominating nose tackles. Senior Antwaun Woods is the latest to try his hand at this difficult task. However, it’s very intriguing to see senior defensive end Claude Pelon get his opportunity when Woods is out. Who knows, maybe nose tackle really is Pelon’s best position.
The ratings game: Through the first two games it has aired, Notre Dame Football on NBC has averaged nearly 4 million viewers (3.9 million), NBC’s best two-game viewership average since 2012. So if the Irish and Trojans can win this week, you can imagine the rating for the prime time game on NBC to be well watched, as well.
Here’s the pitch: Former USC Athletic and National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson will be the Grand Marshal of the Fiesta Bowl Parade on Jan. 2. It would be rather poignant if “The Big Unit’s” alma mater, USC, were selected to play in the game.
Size matters: Regarding the recent signing of incoming freshman wide receiver Michael Pittman (6-4, 205) from Oaks Christian. Steve Sarkisian indicated all the positives of having big pass catchers in the lineup. The head coach said, “I like his (Pittman) physicality. For our system as we’ve come to find out, if you have big, physical wide receivers on the outside, not only catching the ball but blocking, there’s a real presence for us. I think he is going to provide that, that same mold for that position that we’re looking for.”
Cousins: Were you aware that Trojans starting offensive guard Toa Lobendahn is a second cousin of former USC offensive lineman Faaesea Mailo (1996-2001)?
The post-game show…
Pack attack: Hard to believe he was once a Trojans walk-on, but watching last Monday night’s NFL game between the Packers and the Chiefs we were reminded that Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has been to five Pro Bowls.
Green Bay guy, too: One is also reminded that former Trojans defensive lineman Nick Perry is also part of that Packers defense.
In the cards: As has been publicized, former Trojans defensive lineman Frostee Rucker was in attendance at last weekend’s USC/ASU game. If, by chance, you were unaware, Frostee plays for the Arizona Cardinals and the day after watching the Trojans in person, Rucker, the former Tustin High star, recorded three tackles and a sack against the Cleveland Browns.
Posted: In an interview in the New York Post, former Trojans All-American defensive tackle Leonard “Big Cat” Williams said he really missed the closeness of the college community. Big Cat said that at the pro level after practice teammates generally go back to their homes and don’t hang out.
Rose Bowl HOF inductees: It seems like an anomaly when a Trojan isn’t inducted yearly into the Rose Bowl Hall of Game. Well, this is one of those years. However, there will be some worthy inductees on Dec. 30 in Pasadena that will be honored. Those inductees include College Football Hall of Famer Fritz Pollard (Brown), former Washington quarterback Mark Brunell, former Rose Bowl Game Media Director and Pac-10 Associate Commissioner Jim Muldoon, and former Michigan running back Tyrone Wheatley.
The last word: Forty-two years ago this past week, legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas became the first signal caller to attain 40,000 yards passing when he connected with Mike Garrett for 30 yards. Wait. Mike Garrett? Yup…Unitas and the Trojans Heisman Trophy winner were both playing at the time for the Chargers. Who knew?