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November 5, 2012

Seriously second-guessing here

Many USC fans left the Coliseum scratching their heads after the Trojans' 62-51 loss to Oregon. We look back at some of the dubious decisions and odd misplays that contributed to USC's third loss of the season.

  • 1st quarter, USC down 7-0: On third and eight at the Oregon 26-yard line Matt Barkley completes a four-yard pass to true freshman Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. Working in the seldom-used tight end on a critical down left USC kicking a 39-yard field goal instead of matching the Ducks' touchdown.

  • 2nd quarter, USC down 34-24: Trojans started their drive with just 1:23 left on the clock and did a great job working in screen passes to move the ball down the field. But from the Oregon 15-yard line with under 30 seconds remaining, Lee was targeted twice in the field of play as opposed to the sideline or the end zone. One pass was dropped, the other left Lee, with no blockers, scrambling for positive yards leading to a fumble. Not throwing into the end zone cost the Trojans a chance to tie or take the lead coming out of halftime since they'd be getting the ball to start the second half.

  • 3rd quarter, USC down 34-24: The Trojans drove down to the Oregon eight-yard line and called a timeout after an incomplete pass to Lee. Following the timeout, Barkley looked rushed and confused, throwing the ball in the direction of Randall Telfer who had yet to catch a pass in the game. USC salvaged the drive with a pass interference call on Lee and a two-yard touchdown run by Silas Redd.

  • 3rd quarter, USC down 41-31: Lee set the Trojans up at the Oregon 16-yard line with an 82-yard kickoff return. Redd rushed for three yards and then fullback Soma Vainuku, seldom used to carry the ball, lined up at tailback on second down for a one-yard loss. Lee saved the day again, catching a Barkley pass for an 11-yard gain on third down and then Redd punched it in from three yards out.

  • 4th quarter, USC down 48-38: Facing fourth down and six from the Trojans' 42-yard line, USC punted the ball away instead of going for the first down. With the Oregon offense moving the ball with ease, the importance of field position would seem to cease to exist. The only chance to win the game would be to keep the ball on offense and make it a one-score game.

  • 4th quarter, USC down 55-38: With less than nine minutes left, the Trojans ran the ball on third down and two instead of throwing the ball downfield. Redd failed to gain a yard but on fourth down, Lee took a Barkley pass and somehow squirmed for three yards, keeping the drive alive.

  • 4th quarter, USC down 55-45: Following Oregon's only punt of the game, USC was inexplicably called for a delay of game penalty on second down and 10. Barkley found Woods for what would have been a first down before the penalty, and a disorganized incompletion on fourth down turned the ball over to Oregon and removed all hopes of a late comeback.

  • 4th quarter, USC down 62-45: After giving up more yardage than any team in USC history, even the Coliseum vision board operator got into the act, showing a sponsored video segment glorifying all of the great Trojan defensive plays.

  • Entire game: With the Oregon offense facing little resistance, at some point the Trojans had to forget about containing the big play and start to create negative plays. They had to get up near the line of scrimmage to force the action as opposed to sitting back and letting the Ducks execute their offense unmolested.

    Some of the decisions we wonder about allowed Oregon to score or kept USC from scoring. Others put the Trojans in difficult positions the team was able to recover from only because of Lee.

    Without Lee making big plays at crucial times, the final 62-51 score would have been much, much worse.


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