Bowl Projection

USA Today has USC playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama in a College Football Playoff game. Does anyone think USC would beat Alabama today? I don’t even know if Sam Darnold could pull that off . . . at least not without some help.

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Try Something Different

I will expand on this later but here is a question to ponder. Texas true freshman Sam Ehlinger, in his second career start, was pretty bad in the first half against USC and then played much better in the second half.

Simply a case of a young player maturing in a game, right? Maybe. But here’s another way to look at it: Perhaps USC’s defense never changed and Ehlinger got more comfortable because he knew what he faced. So why didn’t USC mix up its defenses more in the second half?

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Who’s Playing?

I can’t remember the last time there were so many differing opinions on who should play. For example,I think Joseph Lewis was the best young receiver but he didn’t play much the first three games. I think Austin Jackson is the best young tackle but he isn’t considered a right tackle so he wasn’t a candidate to replace an injured Chuma Edoga during the line’s meltdown against Texas.

Last spring, defensive back Jamel Cook intercepted three passes in one practice from three different quarterbacks. But he is a 6-3 safety that is being shoehorned into an uncomfortable cornerback. So he doesn’t play. This is why we aren’t coaches, I guess.

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Morning Buzz: USC’s Best Young Receiver Is A Tailback

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Since there is a lot of doublespeak right now about why USC’s large stable of young receivers are not making an impact, I wrote today about one freshman is meeting expectations as a receiver: Tailback Stephen Carr.

Excerpt: Stephen Carr looks more comfortable making catches than anyone other than Deontay Burnett and was a star of the Texas game with his 21-yard reception of Darnold’s jump-pass to help set up the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation.

So when will the other receivers make a breakthrough?

“You’ve got to earn your way on the field,” wide receivers coach Tee Martin said.

Full story here

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Post Practice Injury Report

A lot of players were out today: Steven Mitchell hurt his groin in the game and didn’t practice. Porter Gustin, Rasheem Green, Joseph Lewis, Ajene Harris and Ronald Jones were among those who missed practice. Green rode a bike while Jones did some warmups.

Running backs coach Deland McCullough said he had no reason to believe Jones would not start at Cal.

UPDATED: Of the group, Gustin (toe, shoulder) is probably the most serious injury. The others could be back though USC coach Clay Helton has not said yet.

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USC Needs A Timeout

What are the odds if the Cal game is close at the end, USC has its full complement of timeouts? The legend of Sam Darnold also means he doesn’t need any timeouts to stage a dramatic drive, which is good since he rarely gets many.

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Is This A Trap Game For USC?

It’s the big reunion week for Justin Wilcox and USC. So here’s the classic photo of Wilcox from when he coached at USC. But Wilcox is 3-0 and has the Bears playing defense. So this might just be a trap game. Look at some history:

This Saturday Cal will wear throwback uniforms to honor its great QB, Joe Roth. The first Joe Roth memorial game was 40 years ago against USC (1977). It was the first sell out of a USC-Cal game since 1951 and an unranked Cal team beat No.10-ranked USC, 17-14. 

Cal has defeated an AP Top-5 ranked USC team in Berkeley only twice.  The first time, in 1975, John McKay’s last trip to Memorial Stadium, the Cal QB was Joe Roth. The last time was that triple overtime game in 2003, which was also the last time the Bears beat the Trojans.

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On Texas QB Situation

I’ve had some media and fans tell me it didn’t matter that Texas started true freshman Sam Ehlinger against USC instead of its No. 1 QB, Shane Buechele. Ehlinger did a nice job in a second half but here’s what Texas coach Tom Herman said about this week’s game.

“When we start practice (Tuesday), Shane will get the majority of the reps with the 1s.”

So apparently it mattered to Herman.

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