Biggest takeaway on offense
Garry Paskwietz: The biggest takeaway for me so far is the lack of a consistent identity with what the offense is trying to do. Early on it seemed as if the plan was to have J.T. Daniels throwing the ball 35-45 times per game, while the numbers were reversed against Arizona with 47 runs and only 26 passes for Daniels. With the make-up of the current offense it would seem to make sense to lean on the run with a trio of good backs, and I’ll take my chances with the offensive line developing more as a run blocking unit.
Greg Katz: The biggest takeaway on offense for me is that while true freshman quarterback JT Daniels has lived up to expectations, the running backs have been excellent, and the receiver are getting more into understanding Daniels’ pinning the football, the biggest takeaway is that the offensive line still isn’t overwhelmingly physical and has been a challenged in pass protection, especially against superior talented teams. Clay Helton told us before the season that this would be a physical offensive line and that may yet prove to be accurate, but it’s still obviously a work in progress.
HelixTrojan: So far the Trojan offense has not found the formula that produces consistent offensive drives that produce touchdowns. They’ve been a little better in the last two games, but whether it be a lack of execution, penalties, or play calls, the ability to sustain drives has been spotty at best. QB JT Daniels has shown flashes of the talent and skill set that was talked about before the season opened. And he will only get better as the chemistry with the receivers grows. The running backs have been good when the offensive line provides a hole or crease. So the lack of consistency on offense has boiled down to the offensive line – they just have to keep plugging away and get better.
Biggest takeaway on defense
GP: I’m looking forward to seeing the continued development of the defensive line to become a real strength of the defense. We saw a glimpse against Arizona with the goal line stand even though the Wildcats eventually scored, I liked the way the wall in the middle was led by Marlon Tuipulotu and Jay Tufele. I think we can still get more pressure from guys like Christian Rector and Jordan Iosefa, and if that happens in the second half of the season to add to what Porter Gustin is doing I think that would go a long way to the overall success of the defense.
GK: The biggest takeaway on defense is that the Trojans are still looking for consistent sacks of the quarterback, which affects the secondary, especially at one corner spot. Since this team has just one interception through five games, it, too, is still a work in progress to achieve a combination of a fierce pass rush and exceptional pass coverage.
HT: I have been a little surprised at the lack of play-making on defense. This unit was supposed to be the strength of the team, but they too have been inconsistent. I like the talent and experience, but the dominance we hoped for has not been there. One of the biggest things I see is that the defensive adjustments to what the opposing offenses are doing has been slow. There have been moments, but SC is not dictating on defense what an offense can and cannot do.
Biggest areas of improvement you want to see in the 2nd half of the season
GP: I would like to see more Trojan football and that comes in the area of sound physical fundamentals. Much has been made about how that starts in practice and I agree with that, you can’t just turn on a switch and become a physical football team, but what we saw in the second halves against Stanford and Texas was not indicative of the foundation that this program was built on.
GK: The biggest improvements I want to see in 2nd half of the season include a stronger pass rush, better secondary play, a vastly more aggressive offensive line that is fundamentally sound, and based on last week’s game at Arizona, a drastic reduction in penalties on both sides of the ball, which is a sign of being an undisciplined team.
HT: College football is a week to week game, so there is always the opportunity to get better. And SC still has a chance to meet its conference goals. 1) I’d like to see a sequence of plays that emphasizes more of the running game. 2) The defense needs to take away an aspect of the opposing offenses’ game early, and then show the capacity to adjust quickly in the 2nd half. 3) This team has to be more resilient during games by responding to adversity better. In other words, when the other team scores or gains an advantage . . . SC must answer with a score of its own on offense, and shut down the opposing team with a “3 and out” or turnover on defense.