It is always easy to choose a skill player to be a team’s most valuable player but if I had to pick an MVP for USC this season, it would be linebacker Su’a Cravens. Besides making a fairly quick transition from safety, Cravens led the Trojans with 16 tackles for loss and tied for the lead with two interceptions. His five sacks were only two behind team leader J.R. Tavai.
But more important than stats, Cravens made big play after big play. He influenced games. I’m not sure anyone else was more consistent.
Cody Kessler and Nelson Agholor obviously had more touches but I think Cravens was the best performer and most reliable player.
USC received a commitment today from St. John Bosco shot-putter Matt Katnick from St. John Bosco in Bellflower. Katnik’s father is former USC center John Katnik (1986-87). His cousins include former USC offensive lineman Norm Katnik (2001-03) and tight end Kurt Katnik (2003).
Another cousin is Brad Walker, a wide receiver from 2004-07 who is perhaps most famous for being the player Reggie Bush inexplicably lateraled to during a long run in the national championship game against Texas.
With eight true freshmen making 52 starts, a common refrain this season is how bright things will be down the road.
I didn’t listen but I’ve received emails today saying radio host Colin Cowherd said USC has eight-or-nine starters now that will not start in two years. If he said it, why not name them? I’d say the number is actually lower than that.
But my point is this “just you wait for the future” attitude is not a winning idea. Pete Carroll didn’t wait. Nick Saban doesn’t wait. Urban Meyer doesn’t wait. And I don’t think Steve Sarkisian wants to wait.
And I hesitate to make this comparison because I’m not even thinking of Sarkisian. But did Washington make great improvement by saying the future would be brighter? They have won almost the same number of games the past five years.
A similar spin is being employed with men’s basketball, with four freshmen in the rotation and no seniors on the roster. That is supposed to excuse losing to Army, who last beat a Pac-12 team in 1964 and was 1-11 against the conference entering Saturday night’s victory.
TCU coach Gary Patteron won the Eddie Robinson Award today, which is the Football Writers Assn. of America’s Coach of the Year award. Patterson is now a two-time winner, just the eighth coach to win it twice. USC coach John McKay was also a two-time winner.
Pete Carroll never won the award but was a finalist three times.
Last week I mentioned how Lombardi Award winner Scooby Wright and All-American center Hroniss Grasu were not offered scholarships by USC. Neither was Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
But USC was hardly alone on Mariota. Most schools did not offer him (including Washington). And if you need an example of performing under pressure, consider that Mariota had 12 touchdown passes and no interceptions in games against Michigan State, UCLA, Arizona (twice) and Utah.
Remember the knock on USC QB Cody Kessler was only four touchdown passes and three interceptions in four games against ranked teams.