Weiner: UCLA Showed USC Football in Shambles

Posted on November 24, 2021

  By Matt Weiner, SportsPac12

In a rivalry game the goal isn’t to win. It’s to embarrass your opponent and use their heads as a toilet plunger and then wedgie them to the school’s flagpole like they’re Milhouse from the Simpsons.

Quite literally hanging them out to dry for their fans to look at in disgust.

When UCLA increased the rout to 48-26 with 10 minutes left in the game, Chip Kelly knew it was a perfect time to go for two and put the sacrosanct 50 burger on the Trojans.

Half of it was motivated by vindication from when USC did a similar gesture in 2011 to make the final score 50-0 instead of 49-0, and the other half was the thrill of establishing dominance in Los Angeles.

They ended up failing on that conversion attempt, but it didn’t stop the Bruins from scoring two more touchdowns and running it up to 62-33.

Might sound strange, but Chip Kelly did USC a favor by scoring the most points ever in this historic rivalry that dates back to 1929.

If the score had ended at 48-33, then the same diatribes about needing better execution would’ve been issued by coaches and players.

UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson avoids a USC defender. | John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

But when you lose by 29 and allow 609 yards, it sounds off a tornado siren to the real calamities taking place.

And it appears that many of these roads lead back to the defensive backs department led by Donte Williams before he became interim head coach.

Using the Trojans secondary to stop Dorian Thompson-Robinson was like trying to plug a dam with a wiffle ball.

The right idea was always there, but you can’t do anything with an object that is designed to be porous.

Take away the 2 picks on his first 2 throws of the game and DTR went 16-20 for 349 yards with 4 touchdowns through the air and 2 on the ground.

How much of this can be traced back to Donte Williams?

Is it a tale of one man who has to fix so many problems he can’t focus on one? Or is he trying to compete in the Kentucky Derby with a pack of mules?

Take this touchdown from Thompson-Robinson for example.

There have been countless examples of him failing to hurdle defenders this year and coming within the length of an arm hair of being catatonic.

It’s a tendency that can be easily picked up through film study.

Yet, Isaac Taylor-Stuart fell for the trap and whiffed on the tackle leaving him in no man’s land and on the lowlight reel from this year.

Should Williams be held accountable for a play like this where advice and guidance are forgotten and in the moment instincts take over?

There is another instance on this Kyle Phillips receiving touchdown where Jaylin Smith isn’t able to keep up and gets dusted for a score on 3rd down.

If a stop was made when the ball was caught UCLA would’ve had to go for the field goal and USC would’ve had to make up 14 points in 26 minutes.

Smith was in the right position, but it comes down to one guy was faster than the other.

Then there are countless other examples where defensive backs are tripping over each other trying to make stops or getting waxed by Zach Charbonnet in the running game.

usc logoif talent was the deciding factor, I find it hard to believe that USC would’ve gotten out-gained by a football field and a quarter.

What makes this clowning feel especially dismal is how there has been no improvement shown at home throughout the year.

Except for the the loss to Stanford, USC has allowed an average of 543 yards in their three other losses at home this year.

None of which have been the byproduct of a classic shootout. Just getting beaten to a pulp one game after another to teams that are expected to have a similar ranking of talent.

This is where a lot of the blame should fall on the shoulders of Williams. He has done nothing to improve the state of USC football following the second half against Washington State.

He was thrown into the clutches of chaos, but it fell upon him to right the ship and get things back on track.

UCLA’s Bruins Chip Kelly talks with USC interim head coach Donte Williams | Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Back on track is personally defined as making the team look more competent week-to-week and making sure your specialty is nails so the incoming head coach has one less thing to worry about.

Allowing 62 points and 609 yards screams to any coaches interested that there needs to be a change in all facets of the game from recruiting to play calling.

Burn the entire forest down and start the process of planting all over again, but the crops currently in there are closer to death than life.

This process of figuring out the defense is like dropping your keys in between your seat and center console.

You’ll struggle at first, pinch some fingers and think you’ll be left stranded to die, but eventually you grasp them and then cruise on home.

The USC defense is going to go through its struggles, but they too will find their way home, right?

—Recent Matt Weiner Stories—

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