All football fans know that no matter how lopsided the score at the end of four quarters, every victorious head football coach is going to point to areas he thinks need improvement during the post –game interview and press conference.
In this respect, USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin was no different from any other after Saturday’s stomping of an over-matched Hawaii team.
In this opener the Trojans had something to prove.
That NCAA sanctions which limited their scholarships and kept them out of postseason play for two years could not decimate the storied football program.
Or keep the dynasty from continuing on in the aftermath of the Reggie Bush scandal and former head coach Pete Carroll’s absconding to the NFL.
While their competition wasn’t exactly top-notch, USC did so in dramatic fashion, spoiling former offensive coordinator Norm Chow’s head coaching debut. The Trojans' offense was at least as good as advertised.
Quarterback Matt Barkley wowed the sellout crowd of over 93,000 throwing for 372 yards on 28 of 34 attempts with three touchdowns and no interceptions, cementing his place as a Heisman Trophy contender.
More importantly perhaps, he wasn’t sacked at all, and rarely appeared even rushed.
What may turn out to be the most dynamic receiving duo in college football this season, Marquis Lee and Robert Woods were equally impressive. Lee, with a 75-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage, ended the game with 10 grabs for 197 yards, while Woods hauled in six more for 42 yards and two TDs.
Not to be outdone, Penn State transfer Silas Redd made his own statement with nine carries for 56 yards, a rushing touchdown and one spectacular catch and run for 41 yards.
Even USC’s much maligned defense was dominant, holding Hawaii scoreless for most of the game while notching five sacks and two INTs.
Yet, after the game Kiffin made it clear that despite the 49-10 pounding, he was expecting more, specifically commenting on a couple of drops by Lee and USC’s failure to make good on any of their two point conversion attempts.
Considering the exponentially increasing quality of their opponents as the season progresses, it’s easy to see why.
In general, the Trojans will have to rely more on their high powered offense than shutdown play from their defense if they hope to make a successful National Championship run.
While Kiffin lauded his defense, the defensive line in particular has been the subject of much media speculation of late.
Defensive line coach, Ed Ogeron, managed to fire up his charges with a pre-game speech implying that the group was being disrespected as the main weakness of the No. 1 ranked USC squad.
Whether Ogeron’s enthusiasm can continue to stoke the defensive line's fury will be critical if USC hopes to end the season atop the polls.
Trojans fans should keep a close eye on this unit as a Mountain West opponent isn’t really a fair test of their strengths and weaknesses and far stiffer challenges lie ahead.