Let’s be clear about one thing. Any criticism regarding the Notre Dame loss also lays some blame at Pete Carroll and his poor recruiting decisions the past three years.
But also consider this when analyzing the loss (and absence of Matt Barkley). Notre Dame was without its top tailback (Armando Allen), starting quarterback (Dayne Crist), one of the nation’s top tight ends (Kyle Rudolph) and a top defensive lineman (Ian Williams).
If Lane Kiffin did not beat them last night, will it be any easier the next two or three years?
USC quarterback Matt Barkley said he would play against UCLA in spite of his sprained ankle next weekend.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Barkley said. “It just stinks we lost. It’s not a good feeling. Our guys fought but came up short.”
You can blame the loss on this play or that play, but the bottom line is in rivalry games you get your team ready to play or you don’t.
That is where Lane Kiffin is accountable tonight. The dropped passes and lack of focus are coaching issues. Say what you want about Pete Carroll, but he went 16-2 against the archrivals. I have no sense that USC will even come close to that mark in the next few years.
And if you want to say Carroll lost to Notre Dame in his first year too, remember the talent level of that team compared to this team. Remember fullback Sunny Byrd started at tailback.
And remember this: If USC does not defeat UCLA next week, Lane Kiffin is 7-6.
And what was his record at Tennessee? 7-6.
“I felt like I should have made the play. I let my team down. It’s tough to bite this nail right now but Mitch made a great pass. I should have caught it. There’s nothing I can really do about it now.”