In a weekend showdown against Arizona State, the USC Trojans, who were heavily favored, found themselves in a perplexing situation. As the fourth quarter commenced, the Sun Devils had a chance to seize the lead, baffling both fans and analysts alike.
The Trojans appeared to approach the game with an overconfident demeanor, assuming victory was assured. However, as the match intensified towards its conclusion, they suddenly came to life. The Trojans’ defensive performance raised eyebrows, as it seemed they were reverting to old habits from the previous season.
Accountability for the preparation and execution ultimately falls on head coach Lincoln Riley. Nevertheless, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch shoulders a significant portion of the blame. His defensive unit failed to make a substantial impact until the game’s waning moments, resulting in a closer contest than anticipated.
“Grinch doesn’t get an “F” because the defense actually did win the game with its play early in the fourth quarter. The offense got stuck for several possessions. The defense came up with a huge turnover, and the pass rush collected several sacks to put the game away. That was good.”
In a scathing evaluation by Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire, Grinch received a lackluster “D” grade on the post-game report card. Zemek elucidated his thoughts on the team’s overall performance. The game’s outcome appeared bewildering since the Trojans’ defense had displayed competence during the initial weeks of the season. Furthermore, the Trojans had the advantage of a bye week leading up to the matchup against Arizona State, affording them ample time to prepare.
“Having time off should refresh and sharpen players’ instincts. Instead, having time off seems to worsen those instincts. USC had a week off before this game. We should have seen a mentally fresh team come out and kick butt.”
If the USC Trojans aspire to be genuine title contenders, they must raise their overall performance significantly. Particularly, their defense must step up when facing formidable opponents, complementing their potent offensive arsenal. The recent lapse against Arizona State serves as a stark reminder of the work that lies ahead for the Trojans if they aim to be taken seriously in the championship race.
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