You never know how you’re going to react to something until you’re punched in the mouth. Well, judging by USC’s 52-6 defeat to Alabama during college football’s first weekend, the Trojans got hit pretty hard.
The full extent of the Crimson Tide’s psychological jabs, uppercuts and overhand right punches that came in the form of a freshman quarterback and a physically imposing defense, won’t be known for a while.
One thing is fore sure, though. The Trojans had better pick themselves up pretty quickly because they have a date with Utah State next. Utah State is no Alabama. You can’t even mention those two teams in the same sentence. One team, Alabama, is the reigning national champions.
The other, Utah State, struggled in the Mountain West Conference last season with a 6-7 overall record. What the Trojans have to do is regain their confidence after that beatdown at Jerry’s World, better known as AT&T Stadium.
The Aggies could provide that for the Trojans. But in college football these days, that is not a forgone conclusion. What the USC-Alabama matchup proved is that the Trojans are not the juggernaut program that they once were. Will they ever get there again?
They might. It’s going to take a lot of work because what was evident in the Alabama game was a clear divide of the playing field. Alabama is loaded with NFL talent sprinkled throughout its roster. The Trojans, on the flip side of the coin, could only counteract the Crimson Tide’s stealth and physicality with just a couple of guys who will be playing on the next level.
USC got an opportunity to measure themselves against the nation’s top team.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, they learned rather rudely that they have a long ways to go to be on that kind of playing field. All those offensive weapons USC coach Clay Helton has at his disposal were officially nullified by the physicality of Alabama’s smothering defense.
The Crimson Tide’s defense was so good that they took out both JuJu Smith Schuster and Adoree’ Jackson with no hiccups. Schuster, up for All-American honors, mustered only one catch for nine yards. With just two field goals and 194 total yards, the Trojans looked like a team that ran up against Superman’s nemenis Doomsday.
They were clearly overwhelmed. It was not a fair fight to say the least. Nick Saban brought his group of rough riders to the game and they just smacked the heck out of the Trojans. The Trojans can take comfort that is usually the case with anyone who play the Crimson Tide.
The good news for USC fans is that the Trojans now know what they have to do to make that jump back to the elite. It may not be this year. It may not be next year. Building blocks take time. But what we learned about this year’s USC team in the first game is that there’s work to be done on both sides of the ball.
Giving up 38 points in the two middle quarters, Alabama or not, says there’s work to be done on the defensive end. When you consider the Trojans have to face Stanford and Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey, Utah, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon and Notre Dame coming up on the schedule this season, that Alabama game was not exactly a good look for the defensive unit.
It’s one game, though. Good, bad or indifferent, fans and the media tend to overreact after just one game. This is still a very good USC team. Not too many college football programs can go toe-to-toe with Alabama and walk out with all limbs in intact. That’s just a reality.
USC should take it as a good sign that they were able to make it out of the bully’s wheelhouse with all of their faculties intact.