tBBC Interview: Catching Up With Terrelle Pryor

Written June 12th, 2014 by Jason
Pryor

3-0 Against That Team Up North

There are all different types of Buckeye student athletes.

Most are the ones that put in their time and move on to “regular” life beyond college, while some others go on to be mega stars professionally in their sport. And though they are few, there are those in both categories who are honored and cheered at just the mere mention of their name.

Then there is the even rarer athlete whose name always manages evoke a response; emotionally and sometimes even causing people to discuss their careers. Terrelle Pryor is one of those athletes- from your barber to your mother-in-law, everyone in Buckeye Nation has an opinion on the legacy he left at Ohio State.

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Compare and contrast – NCAA Allegations

Written July 15th, 2011 by Eric

UPDATE- We’ve incorporated all of the allegations into a table for those who prefer getting their information that way. Check it out here, or under the Media Table at the top right of the site.

UPDATE 2- Georgia Tech’s case has been added to the article for completeness. (You need to click “read more” before the link will work properly)

UPDATE 3- This article has been reposted with updates.

USC fans telling their favorite organization what to do

This is the article you have all been waiting for.  Rather than just looking at all of the allegations leveled at Ohio State like I did a couple weeks ago, I now list every single allegation leveled by the NCAA at several different schools.

This article is a public service for anyone who is interested in the details of the allegations for a number of different schools including: Southern California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Boise State and Ohio State.  Each table of allegations is a faithful representation of the allegation posed against the institution along with the response provided by the University for each.  I hope that everyone who reads this will find it an informative and useful resource for discussing the NCAA, amateurism and the recent string of investigations that have swept the nation.

This is not a short article, so you may want to take it in slowly and in pieces. Reading it in one sitting may cause any number of complications that we hold no responsibility for including, but not limited to; excessive optimism, finger pointing, extreme laughter and glassy-eye dazes.

I also point out that what is included in each table is entirely factual information based off the documents provided by either the NCAA or the university in question.  So too with the “results” of the investigation at the end of the discussion for each school.  The discussions themselves are entirely a matter of writer’s opinion and should be taken as such.

For an in depth look at each allegation and the violations therein,

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The Buzz- LA reacts to USC Sanctions

Written June 13th, 2010 by MaliBuckeye

Third post in our coverage of Southern Cal’s wonderful snuggle fiesta with the NCAA. Here’s your music:

It’s been an interesting week here in Los Angeles, out on the far edge of the ocean. The Dodgers are doing well, Kobe and Friends are having fun at Bill Simmons’ expense, we’ve got earthquakes weekly, and we’re watching a couple of folks try to purchase the right to be the governor of our state and it’s botched economy.

But, with all the news we’ve been hearing out of the University of Southern California, it’s been difficult to miss folks’ reactions and responses to all things Trojans.

I’m assuming that you’ve got “the Google”, so you can get the analysis from all the websites (be sure to check out SBN’s Conquest Chronicles, the LA Times, and the OC Register). Instead, I want to answer Ken’s question from the comments- “what is fan reaction to USC getting curb-stomped?

With that in mind, I want to introduce you to the Five College Football Fans You Meet In Los Angeles.

Heaven? Nope- too much fricking smog.

Arrogant- Current USC AD Mike Garrett (emphasis on “current”- he shouldn’t get too comfortable) was quoted as saying the following

“As I read the decision by the NCAA, all I could get out of all of this was … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy, and they wish they all were Trojans.”

Yeah, champ. That’s it.

Combined with Pete “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Carroll’s script read through, and you get a sense of the attitude that many Trojan supporters have, even today. A look though the message boards shows a group of deluded folks who still see this as the NCAA on a witch hunt, trying to punish a bunch of outstanding citizens who are only guilty of trying to help young adults out. There’s no way for me to adequately describe this vibe other than to make the following comparison- these folks remind me of either every interview I’ve ever seen with Barry Switzer or the continued hauter exhibited by the members of “Da U”, even now, years after their program has been highlighted as on of the worst things to happen to college football. I’m guessing these folks may not have the self awareness to realize that those aren’t good comparisons.

In Denial- There are a lot of people here in the Southland who are assuming that this didn’t happen, and that it will all go away with the appeal. “Ok, they sent the message… but we’ve got a new coach, and all that stuff should be put behind us”. Or, echoing Pete’s script from earlier “these sanctions are much too harsh for what happened; they’ll be changed.

I’m guessing these people missed this part of official report

The committee seriously considered the imposition of a television ban as a penalty in this case. After lengthy discussion, the committee ultimately decided that the imposition of other significant penalties, as set forth here, adequately responded to the nature of the violations found in this case and the level of institutional responsibility. Therefore, a television ban need not be imposed. The committee notes, however, that the television ban is a penalty designed in part to ameliorate extensive and positive media and public attention gained by a program through commission of violations. The committee also notes that the decision in this case not to impose the penalty was a very close call. All student-athletes, coaches, administrators, boosters and agents must understand that violations of NCAA rules have severe consequences.

In other words, it could have been worse. Fans in denial (or “irrationally optimistic”, if you will) should also be aware that the chances of the appeal being successful are pretty slim, if the LA Times is to be believed. They should also remember that the findings did not include any recent concerns; an appeal and review would be likely to take those things into account.

Not a panda, but still sad

Overwhelmed- To be honest, these are most of the people that I know. I had one friend who, when I tried to call to see that she was OK, simply told me- “I’m just going to go into my office and cry”.  It’s almost as if they know that it’s finally caught up with their team; the rumors of impropriety, all the celebrities and hangers on at practice and on the sidelines and in the locker room, the “competitive advantage” that their coach always preached… it’s finally time to pay the bill. To go with another analogy, it’s a lot like the Southern California housing market- no one asked why it was going up and up and up… but now that the bubble has popped, it’s beyond description.

On their behalf, many of these are the true fans; the ones who will still support their team, who didn’t like the latest coaching hire, and who will “fight on” through this.

Attention. You're not paying it

Oblivious- If most of the people I know personally are shell shocked, much of the rest of the “fan base” are not impacted by this at all. This is because much of LA is made up of t-shirt alumni, people who pay attention to sports when everything is going well. They’re transplants from other places, they have more “important” things to do (Disneyland, the beach, sitting in traffic), and will be wearing UCLA gear in a couple of years. Speaking of which…

No idea what this logo is

Gleeful- Those of us who are fans of other teams, particularly UCLA, have been loving every minute of this experience. We get to say “we told you so”, and use words like “comeuppance”. Bruins fans are also able to forget that their current guy was involved in a scandal of some sort at his last two institutions, and focus instead on the joy that comes from the pain of your enemy. And, given how one sided that rivalry has been recently and how obnoxious three of the four types mentioned above can be to live and work with, they’re getting a lot of mileage out of this moment.

To be candid; while not a fan of UCLA, I can certainly resonate with their perspective.

Lessons Learned- USC Sanctions Edition

Written June 12th, 2010 by MaliBuckeye

This is a follow up of the USC Sanctions reflections from yesterday.

Onward… and sticking with our theme:

Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the lessons learned in Heritage Hall- we won’t know what, if any, changes will occur within the administration of Southern Cal’s athletic program for months. To be honest, based on the response of the fans and former coaches, I’m not sure we’re anywhere near the Kubler-Ross stages; there’s been so much denial, it’s difficult to separate “normal” from “grief processing”.

Nope, this is going to be my back to school essay: “Things I Learned by Staring at a Car Wreck“. Here goes:

  • The NCAA Is Not Impotent. A lot of folks, your humble correspondent included, were certain that USC would get off with minimal sanctioning, given that they are the top TV revenue draw west of Denver (although that may be changing). Instead, they responded in a serious way to serious allegations of the rules that make college football a level playing field.  If Miles Brand wasn’t dead, I’d buy him a tasty beverage. We’ll just have to make due.
  • The NCAA Is Not Perfect. Actually, I knew this already, but the SC investigation solidified it. Things that could be better:
  1. No subpoena power meant that it had to beg and dig to find out what went down, especially challenging when certain student athletes buy off the people who are making accusations. I’m looking at you, number one.
  2. There’s still stuff that this report didn’t cover- Joe McKnight’s ride, anyone?
  3. “Swift justice” isn’t swift. Because of the above, stuff like this takes time… a lot of time. This situation lasted longer than the Civil War.
  4. “Swift justice” isn’t exactly justice. Wait, this deserves it’s own bullet…
  • I feel bad for Seantrel Henderson. (Ok, maybe Seantrel in particular should have known what was going on, but what about the other members of the 2010 class?) He and the rest of the current members of the Trojan team had nothing to do with this and are now reaping the whirlwind, while the persons responsible move on to other jobs.  I don’t disagree with the sanctions; “lack of institutional control” and “repeat offender” status means that the response should be significant. It’s just a pity that there’s no way to respond more directly to the good folks who got you into this mess.  Actually, I’d be really interested to see an institution file a civil suit in these matters- say, Southern Cal sues Reggie Bush or Tim Floyd for lost revenue from bowl appearances and such. Lawyer-type readers; is this possible?
  • You can’t please everyone. Obviously, this was going to piss Trojan fans off. What’s been interesting for me is to see the response from other fans; calling for the SMU death penalty, a TV ban, Lane Kiffin to be publicly flogged, USC song-girls cell numbers released to the public, etc. Or, on the other side, Oklahoma fans clamoring for their national championship trophy now that the Orange Bowl win has been vacated. Sooners, be honest- if you did get a trophy, it’d only be the precursor to being on probation within a year or two. And Irish fans? No dice on the Bush Push game- as far as the record books and I are concerned, there were two losers on the field that night.
  • Michigan is doing it right. It hurt to write that. As much as I’m enjoying the fiasco up north and looking forward to August’s meeting with the NCAA, I have to acknowledge that they are being as up front and forthright about this as they possibly can be. Represents the conference well, given the circumstances.
  • This is not the end of the world. Everyone has been saying that these are the most significant sanctions since Alabama was punished in 2002. Alabama… where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah; they just won a national title, only eight years after “Armageddon”. Trojan fahs, as much as I hate to admit this- your team will be back.

OK, that’s about enough of that… We’ll keep you updated as things develop; I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a new AD at Southern Cal within the coming months.

But now I’ve got to go back to helping NorCal Buckeye look for a USC jersey with #1 on it so we can get “Student Athlete” across the nameplate.

Tomorrow- How are Los Angelenos responding?

USC Sanctions: Getting Specific

Written June 11th, 2010 by MaliBuckeye

We got so many positive comments about the last soundtrack, let’s do it again:

For the sake of analogies, Benny is NCAA and everyone else is either Southern Cal or their fanbase.

If you haven’t already read the NCAA’s report, you should at least take the time to read through the summary.

If that’s too much for you, here’s the details. Let’s look at these point by point…

A postseason ban in football following the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

What I like to call the “Rodriguez” option- no bowls for two years. This will also be felt by the rest of the Pac-10, since they revenue share bowl spoils. It also has an impact on the Trojans in terms of training (no bowl practice) and recruiting, although that may not matter, since Southern Cal has also received:

A loss of 30 total football scholarships over the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.

  • 2011 – They are limited to 15 for the year and 75 max
  • 2012 – They are limited to 15 for the year and 75 max
  • 2013 – They are limited to 15 for the year and 75 max
  • 2014 – They are limited to 25 for the year and 85 max

This is the big one, because it keeps them from stockpiling the fifteen running backs that they usually do. It also keeps them from having a monster class in 2014 once the ban is over… that sound you hear is Rick Neuheisel rubbing his hands together gleefully.

On the other hand, this could be a coup of sort for Kiffin and Orgeron; when they offer a student, they can legitimately say “we’ve only got a few of these, and we want to offer you one. When you get here, we’ll be back in the hunt.” That is, if Kiffin can keep from being Kiffin.

A vacation of all football victories starting in December 2004 and running through the 2005 season. This includes the national championship win over Oklahoma on Jan. 4, 2005.

Word from Kansas City- the BCS has already stripped the Trojans of their Orange Bowl Victory. In other news, Vince Young did the same for the 2006 Rose Bowl victory that everyone awarded to USC prior to that game.

Also imposed are limitations for the access granted to boosters and non-university personnel to team charters, sidelines, practices, locker rooms and camps for men’s basketball and football.

Sorry Snoop and Will. What can you do? Oh, and I’m guessing this guy won’t be too popular on campus, either.

All statistics vacated for Bush, Mayo and an unnamed women’s tennis athlete in the games which the NCAA deemed them ineligible due to rules violations.

A vacation of wins in the women’s tennis program from May 2006 to May 2009, for long distance telephone violations committed by a student-athlete.

Tennis? They cheated at tennis? Is nothing sacred?!? I didn’t even know that AT&T was a Southern Cal sponsor…

Bush and Mayo must be disassociated from USC athletics.

That will limit Reggie’s ability to “continue to cooperate with the NCAA and USC, as (he) did during the investigation.” and his ability to “focus on making a positive impact for the University”, but it will also keep him from getting those annoying calls from the alumni office fundraisers. So there’s that. Read More

The Week That Were: 9.19.09

Written September 21st, 2009 by MaliBuckeye

previously on TWTW…

Here’s the soundtrack for today’s journey in the past. And no, unlike some people, it’s not really Journey.

Arrr, yesterday’s games fell on the national holiday o’ “Talk Like a Pirate Day“. Should we be surprised, then, that the upset o’ the day happened at a place whar people show up in boats? Ahoy, and it warn’t the team that we expected t’ see success.  In Piratey news, East Carolina lost to North Carolina. Great Neptune’s mandibles!!

Ok, that’s enough.

But, like TLAPD, the U$C choke to an unranked conference team should become a national holiday, since it happens more frequently than leap year. And given that 5 of the last 6 of these losses have come on the road in the Northwet, there must be something more significant going on. Perhaps the Curse of DB Cooper or something.

Nevertheless, the Trojan Tragedy has sent ripples throughout the college football world. In Los Angeles, fingers are pointing at Surfer Pete, asking again why the coach is unable to keep his team focused. Granted, the starting QB and safety were banged up, but given U$C’s deep pockets of five star talent you’d think they’d be able to beat a team that was 1-15 in their last sixteen games. A team of young men recruited by Ty Willingham. Hmmm… where have we heard that before?

While a post game let-down is to be expected, it didn’t hamper Ohio State who headed to Cleveland and shut out the #5 team in NCAA offense. Toledo, fresh off of their clown stomping of Colorado, was held to 210 total yards and 13 yards rushing. Ohio State’s rebound included 370 yards of offense from “Lebron in Cleats”. Mich1gAAn fans? That’s how you beat Toledo.

To celebrate the “Mistake by the Lake” and the Ohio State recovery, the AP poll decided to drop USC from 3 to 12, and bump tOSU from 11 to… 13. The Buckeyes were jumped by Chokelahoma, who took care of Tulsa on Saturday. However, the team that handed OU their loss got pummeled at home; BYU lost 54-28 to Free Shoes University. And yet, the Sooners didn’t suffer due to the loss of the team that beat them… This, among other things, is the reason that we need to do away with polls until October. But you knew this already.

Around the mid-west, Mich1gAAn managed to cruise against a directional school after struggling in the first half. Notre Ame was the beneficiary of back to back boneheaded decisions by MAChigan State’s sophomore QB, first overthrowing a wide open receiver in the end zone, then sealing the game with an interception at or near the endzone. Penn State continued their “Hosting Hostess” tour, although they did allow Temple to score on their vaunted defense.

SEC action witnessed Auburn holding off the weather and WVa (rats- a burning couch goes great with rain), Arkansas falling to Georgia in a shootout, Calipari’s scandal defeating Pitino’s scandal, and Florida eventually getting around to beating Tennessee in the “our orange is uglier than yours” festival. MSU beat Vandy (really?), and LSU squashed some other team from Cajunland. Old Miss and Alabama combined for 105 points in their wins.

The Huskers lost a well fought road game against a very good Hokie team in the final minutes. True conversation between my beloved and I: Her- “Wow, it’s such a tough loss when you’re winning the whole game and then it falls apart in the last seconds”. Me- “I wouldn’t know what that was like at all.”

Other Big 12 action: Rice couldn’t stick to TBPU, Kansas State blew their one chance to shine in the Rose Bowl, Colorado won while Baylor fell to UConn, Rock Chalk pounded the Cameron Crazies, and the Pirate Cap’n missed out on an opportunity to do Blackbeard proud.

On the Left Coast, toOSU played football from Ohio with predictable results, Washington State won (I know, right?), and Oregon unveiled yet another hideous ensemble in their upset of the Utes. Cal’s Jahvid Best looked to be just that against a chippy Minnesota Team opening their new stadium. Arizona evened the “Big T1e1n Pac Ten challenge” at one each by falling to Iowa.

Elsewheres- TCU continues to roll, Syracuse beat Northwestern in this week’s “They have football teams?” bowl, and Pepperdine remains undefeated. Oh, and this has to be the worst idea of the week- UCF planned a tribute for the African American members of Buffalo’s 1958 team, who rejected a bid to the Tangerine Bowl because their darker hued teammates weren’t allowed to play. Coincidentally, UCF also scheduled a “White Out” for that date, and asked their fans to come dressed in all white. Good thinking.

Small schools update: Bacone got fried by Howard Payne, 56-7.

This week’s games include an  Ohio State/Illinois matchup that will prove how much Ron Zook can screw up his team if given a buy week, and an important Kentucky/Florida clash, if the Gators are healthy enough to show up. Maybe St. Tebow can heal them… although, I’m not sure I’d trust his medical experience. Mich1gAAn hosts Indiana, and Kansas welcomes Bret Favrere’s alma mater. Cal and Oregon square off, Nebraska gets whatever’s left from LSU’s blowout, and the marquee game is Miami and Va Tech in a Big lEast showdown. Texas plays UTEP, TBPU welcomes Eddie Robinson’s school, and TCU travels to Clemson. Washington faces off against Stanford, while the Cougs get to be the rebound team for U$C. Notre Ame has to face a Purdon’t team that just lost to a MAC team… That’s not going to end well.

And now, some inspiration for those underachievers in Block O:

High school students. Just sayin’.

From The Left Coast…

Written September 1st, 2009 by MaliBuckeye

With all the things going on in LA LA Land these days, it would be understandable that college football would have slipped to the back of people’s minds.

I mean, it’s not like we have any major announcements or catastrophes to cover, or that our state budget is still tooling around in a hand basket.

Plus, when it comes to sports, LA fans are a little… peculiar. The best baseball player in Los Angeles is a proven cheater obtained from another team. The best basketball team in the NBA is here, but it took some interesting trade shenanigans with a former LA player turned GM to make that happen. There are no major franchises (sorry Angels) here that were born here- all borrowed from somewhere else. And the good ones don’t stay- the storied NFL program left for friendlier pa$tures in $t. Loui$. The top two NFL franchises followed here (judged by area residents’ apparel and car flags) are Dallas and Oakland/LA/Oakland. The Chargers are a distant third, and even then only recently (read- when they started winning).

Again, this makes sense: Everyone is a transplant from somewhere else, and there’s so much more to do here than in, say, Dayton. It’s logical that most Los Angelenos would choose to pay attention to sports only if and when it is big and shiny.

However, when it comes to LA sports, nothing rallies bandwagon SoCal fans like the best college team money can buy. But even then, it takes something major to stir the masses.

So, recent news that their center has an owie, their #2 receiver is done, and their starting corner is academically ineligible barely raises a latte.

Yawn. Let’s go to the beach or Disneyland…

But one name, though, has stirred more controversy and conversation than any other this pre-season: Barkley.

Not that one... although, it would be awesome

Not that one... although, it would be awesome

That would be true freshman Matt Barkley, something of a California QB legend, who was named starter for the U$C program earlier last week.

A bit of history- Barkley started at Mater Dei High School as a true freshman, taking over the reins of a powerhouse southern California program.

Expected to “compete” for the starting job even in his first year, many have been surprised that he was named the starter for the San Jose State sacrifice and (apparently) the September 12 trip to Columbus.

Well, maybe “surprised” doesn’t quite cover it. The LA Times (Chicago Tribune west) writes that it’s too soon for the freshman-

USC Coach Pete Carroll’s decision Thursday to name (too-good-to-be-true?) freshman Matt Barkley the team’s starting quarterback may have just clinched a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game . . . for Ohio State.

They’re probably pouring beers and doing knuckle-bumps at Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits on High Street in Columbus — with good reason.

We wonder whether Buckeyes Coach Jim Tressel has passed along to his two savvy, veteran senior safeties — Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell — the fact Barkley threw 18 interceptions last year to high school defensive backs.

Making Barkley’s first-ever road trip a nationally televised game at Ohio Stadium is like sending a first violinist to Carnegie Hall before he has learned to play the entire concerto.

The OC Register posts that he’s ready for the fire, though, having seen “every defense in the book-

“Week to week, it’ll be different according to what team we’re playing. But I think we’re better prepared than a lot of offenses because of what we see day to day.

“All the fronts, the blitzes we see in practice — I’m confident in our defense and what they show us every day. A lot of schools can’t do that.”

The Register also goes onto say that there are a number of reasons that this decision is a wise one, not the least of which is Aaron Corp’s injured leg. Somehow, they also manage to slam Mitch Mustain in that article- wasn’t he the #1 QB coming out of HS, and a freshman starter at Arkansas?

Most Trojan faithful (and, given what we’ve already talked about regarding the fickle nature of SoCal sports fans, I use that term loosely) seem to concur that “If Pete says he’s good enough, then he’s good enough. Pete’s never let us down before.”

Well, things are different now. Gone are Norm Chow and  Steve Sarkisian, the architects of Palmer, Leinart, Booty, and Sanchez’s successes.  It will be interesting to see how Carl Smith and John Morton utilize the freshman.

Personally (’cause I know you want to know) I think that this is a case of Cool Hand Pete doing a bit of Rick James- He believes that he’s good enough and smart enough to make the magic happen, no matter who his QB is.

And, he may be right. You can’t argue with his record, or his player’s successes in the NFL. Shoot, Matt Cassell makes millions and just stood next to Pete holding a clipboard for four years.

But it’s hard not to remember that this is the same coach who, when leading the “mostest awesomest team ever” into a home game in Pasadena, out-thought himself and lost the game. In crunch time, with a 4th and short, he decided that having the Heisman Trophy winner on the field would be a bad idea. Hand off, turnover on downs, and Vince Young makes confetti happen.

So, is starting Barkley a bad idea? Obviously, we’ll find out on September 12. I agree with Eric that I want U$C to be at full strength with no “excuses” for the game. Let’s settle it on the field at our best. If that’s your first year QB, then so be it.

As a word of caution before we start to celebrate at Betty’s- last year, there was a lot of clamor for a freshman QB to start in the game in the Coliseum. Fans thought that this would make all the difference, and would springboard their team to the National Title.

And while Terrelle Pryor didn’t lead the Bucks to victory, he certainly played up to expectations and set the standard for the future of the program.

Why is it so hard to beat the Trojans?

Written August 21st, 2009 by Eric

Apparently I’m just going to write about the Trojans for the next several weeks.  I promise I’m not overlooking the oh-so-dangerous-triple-option Navy team, but bear with me while I get my preseason jitters out of the way.  After that I’ll start taking the required shots at “Jake Locker East” (read: Tim “I’m a virgin” Tebow) and that conference that we don’t like to talk about but makes every sports journalist get a chubby.  Am I allowed to say chubby?

I’m sure, given the fact that USC is coming to town, a lot of attention is being placed upon what exactly the Buckeyes are going to need to be able to do in order to beat them.  Every top-of-the-line school has been trying to figure out exactly that since 2003.  Well, I may not have the answer, but I might have a place to start looking.

Obviously, we all know how well Pete Carroll has been recruiting while at USC.  Since 2002, the lowest ranked recruiting class USC has pulled in was ranked 12th in the nation, which occurred in 2002 (via Scout).  While their recruiting classes haven’t been comparatively spectacular of late (2008: 9th, 2009: 9th – compare to 2003, 2004, 2006: 1st) they did have the second best recruiting class in 2007.  For comparison, in this same period OSU has gone 16th in 2007, 4th in 2008 and 1st in 2009.

However, we all know from the 2002 season that, while player talent is very important, it isn’t the whole story; just as important for the win is having a solid game-plan.  So, in lieu of this, I present an exclusive look into the defensive mindset of one Pete Carroll from the mouth of…Pete Carroll.  Yes, in fact you are looking at the transcript from a talk given by Pete Carroll on the subject of his defensive philosophy.(1) Several things stand out:

1) This is a defense designed to be played with the least amount of necessary thought.  As Carroll himself says,

“In principle we want to give our players a chance to know exactly what they have to defend.  We also want to give them an attitude in which to do that.  We want to be an attacking, aggressive football team.   We don’t want to sit and read the play like you often have to with “two-gap” principles of play.  We want to attack into the gap at the snap, get off the ball to play on their side of the field and get after the quarterback.  “

Every single player has an assignment, and if they carry it out correctly it will result in good things for the defense.  While this is true for all defenses, the fact that this is designed to be an almost “plug and play” defensive set makes it particularly dangerous.  Each player knows the one or two things he is responsible for in each play call and simply has to act based upon what the offense shows them.

2) On the other hand, however, it has a weakness.  Each player must know and play his assignment perfectly,

“The big problem with any “one-gap” approach however is that it allows a ball carrier to get into the secondary if one guy makes a mistake.  No matter how aggressive the defense is there is a great amount of discipline that goes with this defense.  You have to be very strict about your positioning and the placement of your players.  You have to have the ability to maintain relative spacing between your players.”

Having a player out of position, or miss an assignment, would be devastating to this defense.  However, you would need either luck, or the ability to know all the defensive assignments and positions to be able to take advantage of a mistake by the defense.

3) Any changes to the defense by offensive personnel changes can be made by the players on the field with little to no interaction with the coaching staff.  This allows for a very fast reacting, fluid defense that can respond to a wide variety of challenges presented by the offense.  This can even be done on the fly in silence with no audible in the case the offense audibles itself.

4) This explains very easily why elite-level teams struggle so much against USC, while the mid-range teams in the Pac-10 manage to trip them up once every year.  Quite simply, the defensive players have to be at the top of their game mentally every single play and every single game.  We all know that it’s easy to get to that level of play for the big games, but much more difficult for the lower-quality opponent.

Now, clearly this says nothing about USC’s offense, which is spectacular in it’s own right.  But, as 2002 also taught us, a very solid defense can win games with nothing better than an above-average offense. And, obviously, you can’t beat a team unless you can at least partially tame its defense.

Terrelle Pryor and company must be able to deal with the threat that this defense poses against them.  In order to do that, I believe that they are going to have to do a bit more growing from what we saw at the end of last season in order to be able to take care of business.  Can they do it with such young, but talented, skill players?  I believe they can, but they’re definitely going to have their work cut out for them.

(1) Special thanks to my good friend Steve for pointing this article out to me.

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