ENJOY THE WIN BUT REMEMBER THIS...
THEY WEREN'T SOME POWERFUL TEAM - HAVING LOST 6 STRAIGHT SEC GAMES.
No, it wasn't pretty. But it was a win and it illuminated many areas where we need to improve. I hope we see that improvement in Tempe. We just have to keep winning. But to do that, we will need to improve from where we are right now.
Brian Mimbs' leg was a howitzer. Mimbs had 5 punts for 261 yards with a 52.2 yard average. He stopped two inside the 20 yard line and had two for more than 50 yards. But, the play of the day for the offense came in the 4th quarter when he punted from inside the 5 yard line. The ball went into orbit before coming back to earth and coming to rest at the USC 12 yard line. This was a 77 yard punt which flipped the field at a critical part of the game. This quote from Asher Allen sums it up: ""Whew, I thought that came out of a JUGS Machine. It looked like somebody hit it with two legs. I did not know what was going on. Obviously he was making plays when we needed to."
Rennie Curran. He only registered 6 official tackles, but his sack in the third quarter ended a scoring opportunity for the Cocks. Rennie was also responsible for the defensive play of the game when USC tailback Mike Davis attempted to dive over the top at the goal line. Rennie flew over to make a hard hit at the goal line. His helmet hit right on the football causing it to come out and bounce into the end zone into the waiting arms of an alert Asher Allen. Again, another quote from Asher sums it up, ""It was about as big as a beach ball. "I ain't going to lie. It was a gold beach ball with diamonds encrusted in it. It was the prettiest thing ever."
Reshad Jones intercepted a Smelley pass at the 3 yard line to snuff out USC's final scoring threat. My favorite part of the play was his mature decision to immediately take a knee, knowing that with only 13 seconds remaining the Dawgs could snap it once and the game would be over. I have seen many other kids in that situation take off running - probably spurred on by the raw adrenaline of making the big play. But despite the fact that there was plenty of green grass in front of him, Reshad didn't hesitate to go straight to his knee. Smart. Mature. Thanks #9.
One Great Play Call and Execution. The two-point conversion ended up being a brilliant call because points were, as usual, difficult to come by against USC. Gary Danielson disagreed with the call - but not vehemently - and he was flat wrong. The actual play we ran was a beauty and the most magnificent part of the play was Moreno's block that upended the end and opened the passing lane for Stafford to hit an open Kris Durham. It was just pitchin' and catchin.'
Offensive Line. I am willing to concede that USC has a stout defense. But our O-Line underperformed anyway. Stafford was under tremendous pressure most of the day. The run blocking was mediocre. Overall, I think that the USC defensive line won this battle. We need to improve here - and I think we will. Although he is not a lineman, it will be a bonus to get Southerland back.
Pass Rush. We got absolutely zero pressure on Smelley with our front four. The only way weever hurried him was through blitzing linebackers. This will not be good enough to beat many of the teams that remain on our schedule. This is an area that showed some weakness in the first two games. So getting a pass rush from our defensive ends needs to receive utmost attention and show marked improvement. I am not as confident that this area will improve much. I hope I am wrong.
Picking Up the Blitz. Captain Munnerlyn was able to record two sacks on corner blitzes when he was standing on the line of scrimmage just outside the end each time. It was obvious he was coming and we neither stopped him nor burned him with a quick pass. I think Stafford missed this twice - but maybe the assignment was missed by someone else.
Dropped Passes. I saw at least three that definitely should have been caught. I will not treat this is an affliction because we always drop passes against USC. We have been catching the ball well all season until a few chances in this game. It is part and parcel of our annual worst game against South Carolina.
The Areas Most in Need of Improvement
As I stated earlier, I feel good about our offensive line getting better throughout the season. But, I am not so sure we will see any sort of dominance from our defensive end postion at any point this season. They are not getting off of blocks at all.
Let's go Dawgs. Get ready for the Duel in the Desert.