Some Bruin fans are already conceding the game on December 2nd. I can understand why some in the Bruins Nation are dispirited and demoralized at the prospect of Karl Dorrell leading another Bruin team into this annual game. However, I don't think that alone excuses us from collectively shying away from expectation from winning this football game. This Trojan team is not invincible. They are not the offensive juggernaut of last season. I don't understand why people are shuddering about the prospect of facing a team, which gave up almost 40 points to Oregon State.
And speaking of Oregon State, our SBN colleague - Building the Dam (BTD) - gave some interesting tips to Rakes of Mallow (Rakes), another SBN colleague representing the Irish on how to beat up on Pom Pom's Trojans. Here is the give and take between the two savvy college football junkies well worth our read:
Rakes: The Beavers forced four turnovers in the game. Were they the gift version, or was there something special the defense did to cause the disruption of the offense?So there you go. Again Bruins are not facing the dominant Southern Cal team of last two years. So why should people give up and not expect a win December 2nd? Why are people psyching themselves out? Have you all forgotten about John Barnes? Have you all forgotten about a freshman Cade McNown who led the Bruins to a win over Rose Bowl bound Trojans in the coliseum. Shoot we almost beat those clowns (if not for Velasco's missed FG off the cross bar) with Bret Johnson (arguably the second worst QB in the history of Bruin football next to Rob Walker) when they were headed to the Rose Bowl in 1989. In that game Number 8 ranked, 8-1 Southern Cal was favored by 17 points over a 3-7 Donahue team playing with no offense. And yet the Bruins if not for few inches would have pulled out a huge win on the road.
BTD: The turnovers were key for the Beavers. The first was an interception that we returned 52-yards. That was huge because we just scored on our opening drive, and they were down at the 2 looking to score when we picked off John David Booty in the end zone. (below)
The other three were fumbles, and I don't remember any of them being gifts. They all came at key times, and most of the time it was just our guy laying a lick on their running backs, and we were lucky enough to recover all three loose balls.
Rakes: Steve Smith had 258 yards receiving against you. Should we even try covering him, or just concede we'll have to score a lot of points to achieve the victory?
BTD: Steve Smith is an athlete. So is Dwayne Jarrett. They're going to catch the ball, you just have to be ready for it. USC is almost impossible to completely shut down, so you just have to do what you can to stop them. For us, it was stopping the run.
Rakes: Big plays in the passing game were obviously key in posting the big lead, as well as the punt return. Have the Beavers gone down field often this season, or was the attack on the Trojan secondary more the matter of necessity than anything else?
BTD: We lost All-American Biletnikoff award winner in WR Mike Hass due to graduation, and not a lot of people thought we had much hope for a passing game this year. Sammie Stroughter has definitely stepped up, and he is clearly our go-to receiver, so yes, we have been able to go down field most of the year. Sammie has also been in the top 2 or 3 in punt returns this year, so that TD return wasn't anything unheard of.
Rakes: Despite giving up all the points, the USC defense still got to Matt Moore repeatedly over the course of the game. Any suggestions for slowing down Lawrence Jackson and company, or should Brady just be prepared to run for his life?
BTD: To be honest with you, it didn't seem like Matt was sacked that many times. They obviously weren't the plays that stuck out in my mind until I heard the radio broadcasters discussing that on the ride home. I don't know the strength of your offensive line, but I wouldn't worry about sacks too much. I don't expect Brady to need to run for his life, but he needs to be aware that pressure is coming, and not let that pressure make him commit stupid turnovers.
Rakes: You held the Trojans under a hundred yards rushing. While a lot of this was aided by the fact they were in comeback mode the entire second half, were you able to stop them with seven in the box early, or how'd you deal with Chauncey Washington?
BTD: Our run defense has been tough all year. We always have a good set of linebackers, (Linebacker-U as some call us) but the Trojans couldn't get anything going on the ground. Part of the reason was the three fumbles, but still Chauncey Washington isn't Reggie Bush.
Rakes: Give any tips that you can that might help the Irish defeat the bastards, or the secret formula that led to one of the upsets of the year.
BTD: Well, the way Notre Dame goes about this game is going to be different than the way Oregon State went about it. Nobody expected Oregon State to win, and they had nothing to lose. In your case, Notre Dame and USC are much closer opponents, both are Top-10 BCS teams, and in the last few years have both been powerhouses.
The formula the Beavers used was to strike early, get the fans into it, mean while disintegrating the Trojans. Capitalize on their mistakes, and if at all possible, don't give them a chance to start a comeback rally. Because once the momentum shifts back to USC, they're hard to stop. The Trojans are one of those teams that's hard to come back against, but they will always come back against you.
And for inspiration, you might want to check out this video.
So why are some of you psyching yourselves out and quitting like Karl Dorrell in the Oregon game?
This game is more than winnable, given the defense we have at our disposal. And if the players come in with riding on incredible emotional, and a fiery Rose Bowl crowd behind them, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if the Bruins pull out a win. And when they pull out a win the student section should not be serenading Karl Dorrell like he is some kind of hot sh!t the way they used to serenade Lavin after his once in a blue moon wins over Arizona at Pauley Pavilion.
When we get back the victory bell, we should savor the victory and soak in the moments when we end the streak on December 2nd, but we should not lose our perspective and let a thrilling (but expected) short term victory mitigate the embarrassments and disgraceful losses from rest of Dorrell's career.
We should act like we have been there before when we pull of the win on 12/2 and think about what is best for the long term interest of Bruin football. In other words when the Bruins win on 12/2, let's not that turn into Dorrell's "Lavin/Stanford Moment," and facilitate this football program's slide into irrelevance.