USC Late-Season Collapse Leaves Bitter Taste

Think back to Nov. 26. USC defeated Notre Dame and was riding high. Caleb Williams clinched the Heisman and almost everyone believed the Trojans would beat Utah in the Pac-12 title game.

I remember the analysts praising the USC defense immediately after the game for their physical play in stopping the Irish’s running game.

Somehow, everything turned to ashes after that high point, and if I’m honest, the 11-3 season feels like a letdown despite what the homers are saying.

Instead of a trip to the College Football Playoff, USC suffered two big collapses vs. Utah and Tulane.

The interesting question is what caused such a sudden turnaround in the defense to go from one of its best performances to two complete meltdowns and even gutless efforts in the final two games?

There wasn’t any shame in losing to Utah but the second half was embarrassing.

I thought Tulane was worse than I expected. I saw an extremely average passing attack. One that shouldn’t have troubled even a typical secondary. But I didn’t think the Green Wave would be much, more physical than the Trojans.

Does that mean the USC strength program, which of course was lauded by the fanboy media during offseason (and season), needs scrutiny?

We can focus on shortcomings of Alex Grinch, but why isn’t USC more physical? That used to be a Trojan trademark. Now the defense looks like a pinball the way players bounce off runners.

Whoever coaches the defense next season, USC needs to become a stronger team.


47 thoughts on “USC Late-Season Collapse Leaves Bitter Taste

  1. Notre Dame: 26 rushes, 90 yards, and ND had been averaging 200 yards rushing per game.

    Tulane: 33 carries, 307 yards, and Tulane had been averaging 157 yards rushing per game.

    There was also the games in which the D gave up 35 points to Cal, 37 points to Arizona.

    Lifelong USC supporter here, but it was hard to watch the lack of effort by some defensive players in the Cotton Bowl.

    No matter what the industry or sport, a new leader (D coordinator) needs to be hired once his/her team stops trying. And those who stop trying need to be on the bench.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There is a story we’re not hearing about the lack of tackling effort shown in the Cotton Bowl. Our guys are bad. But they’re not that bad. I wonder if the contempt the offense feels for the defense finally started to take effect on Saturday.
      You could see the disgust on Caleb’s face as he watched the defense fold in the 4th quarter [again]—- and his comment afterwards told the story: “All the offense can do is score points –we’re not responsible for the defense.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Instead of a trip to the College Football Playoff, USC suffered two big collapses vs. Utah and Tulane. ~ Scott Wolf

    Wolf is being kind to LR & bozo FB. Personally, IMHO, choka, choka choked is definitely more accurate than “Collapses.”

    Now, whenever some Clownster gazes upon CW’s H/T, displayed in Hubris Hut, the nasty phase, choka, choka, choked will always be reinforced.


    1. 48-45 USC DING DING DING

      You were the little dipshit tooting your horn all week predicting a UCLA ass-whipping over USC…..Instead, chip and the girls did a, in the words of owns, CHOKA, CHOKA, CHOKA.

      FYI…ruin’s have NEVER EVER won 11 games in a regular season schedule…HAHAHA!

      Go service your goats!


      1. Damn Crabs, you’re soooo pissed. Truth hurts doesn’t it?

        #Cotton Picker/Picking Bowl Goats….a perfect description of bozo FB.

        SUCC Men’s BB: OOOOOOOOOOFerever and loving it.

        Cue: The Yellow Goats of Tixas


    2. Does that make you feel better sweetie? Miguelito says it’s time for you to clean out the deep fryer, because you will sell no fries before their time.


  3. Before we continue to smoke hopium that LR knows what the problem is and is addressing it aggressively, it’s wise to look at the body of work (scores particularly) of the LR years at Oklahoma. It’s a shootout philosophy that unfortunately hasn’t and never will result in a championship. Balance, trench work, and an aggressive mindset are always the requirements, regardless of how the rules soften the game. We knew what we were getting, but because CH had buried SC football into the ground, we were elated at getting anybody with some semblance of organization. It’s not gonna change. Next year’s schedule will open the window further.


  4. For sure, the DC and all other defensive coaches need to be thoroughly evaluated. It appeared that the offensive line approved throughout the season but it proved we didn’t have enough depth. Criticize all you want about Pete Carroll”s misgivings but his dominant teams were physical on both sides of the ball.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Supposed “insider” is stating that they won’t fire Grinch until they’ve confirmed a hire, which would make sense. Hoping this is resolved by weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Fire Grinch first. Make that “Statement.” Fast! THEN go out & get one of the 2 dozen Defensive Coordinators who are better than him. Pay him whatever. And do it Fast.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. From The Athletic: Question for Stewart Mandel

    As a USC fan, how concerned should we be about Lincoln Riley moving forward? He is the best offensive mind in the sport, but the defenses continue to be atrocious and the recruiting leaves a lot to be desired. — Brian B.

    If your goal as a USC fan is to win 11 games a year, get to watch really exciting QBs and occasionally reach the College Football Playoff semifinals, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. If your goal is to play for and win national championships … yeah, there’s some cause for concern there.

    Riley’s first USC team mimicked his best Oklahoma teams in many ways, from the Heisman QB to the week-after-week shootouts to an absolutely dreadful defense. The Trojans finished 124th out of 131 FBS teams in yards per play (allowed 6.53). In both the Pac-12 title game and Cotton Bowl they looked like they’d never practiced tackling the entire season. At the very least, Riley will need to consider parting with Alex Grinch, his defensive coordinator since 2019.

    But there’s a bigger question about whether it’s even possible for an Air Raid team to field a semi-complimentary defense. There have long been theories that the two simply can’t coexist. Coincidentally, the poster for that riddle for many years was Sonny Dykes. At Cal from 2013-16, he produced prolific offenses led by No. 1 pick Jared Goff but ranked in the 100s in defense all four years. Much the same deal at SMU, which was 96th in his last season.

    However, TCU’s defense this year ranked 33rd in SP+ during the regular season and, while inconsistent, rose up to shut down Texas star Bijan Robinson and contain Michigan’s rushing offense save for one play. Time will tell whether that’s due more to DC Joe Gillespie’s scheme or having inherited four years of Gary Patterson defensive recruits.

    As for recruiting: You should direct those concerns to AD Mike Bohn.

    USC is one of the last remaining major athletic departments that is anti-NIL collectives in recruiting. For all the rumors about USC “buying” Jordan Addison, Trojans players are still very much having to get deals on their own. Which may explain why such a hot coach at such a big-brand program signed only the No. 15 class this year. “Come to Hollywood, we’ll make you a star” is not as compelling to most kids as “Come to State U, our donors will cut you a check tomorrow.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Folt/Bohn-head remain a core problem at USC. Hiring Lincoln Riley was not a masterstroke. Any college football fan with the USC checkbook would have made that call. It was easy and not creative.

      Riley is an incredible offensive coordinator and football savant, but the question is whether he is willing to become a great head coach. That is a different skill set. Is he willing to make tough decisions? Is he willing to risk more injuries to have a tough team? Is he willing to demand that the USC administration stop attacking alumni that want to set up an external collective so he can recruit at an elite level?

      He isnt going to become a great head coach unless he is willing to commit to domination, not just finding a way to win. Finding a way to win is his core skill set – strategic thinking. But that doesnt win championships. Building rosters and then developing those players so that they dominate opponents, physically and mentally and strategically, is the only real path to sustained success and a national championship.

      I originally thought that it was too early to get a new DC. But as I better understand the track record of Alex Grinch at Oklahoma, I see that these defenses are typical of him. Time to hold him accountable.

      There is no reason an “air raid” offense cant also have a top 40 defense.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Especially one that can grind 7.5 minute drive. The only thing that will aversely effect a defense by a successful offense is super short drives. Either 3 and outs, quick turnovers, or 1-2 play td drives. It will gas your defense. Another thing that will screw your defense is poor special teams, Via field position. See anything noticeable with the latter? So USC does not turn the ball over. It has hit some quick drives, but not so much. It has driven the ball well. The only thing that has aversely effected this defense other than their ineffective schematics, techniques (see the last Cal touchdown w/o a safety over the top or a linebacker, playing out side-in press coverage on a slot receiver and absolute no-no in football) , poor tackling and poor conditioning, is bad special teams. So to me this is not an air-raid issue. This is a coaching/special teams issue which leads us back to the boss making good decisions on hires and not loading the offense staff with coaches and neglecting 1/3 of the game of football.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe easier said than done, Gabby…


  6. Hey wolf…..It’s no use beating a dead horse. We all know you sport a little woody and take great pleasure when the football team struggles. So quit acting like a little bitch and embrace the accomplishments from 4-8 to 11-3

    A lot of schools have never won 11 games in a regular season. Try talking about the positives and the future……give us your list of potential replacements for D coordinator.

    We still have yet to see your Heisman vote and ND report card. And quit with the lame-ass “I talked to a PAC12coach”…..if you can’t reveal his name, I doubt it even happened.

    Did Santa finally bring you the new soccer jersey….The extra soiled one needed to be tossed years ago!



  7. Hot off the AP wire, USC Defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch, has formally submitted a “Resignation Letter” effective January 6th.

    (my bad, I thought it was April 1st)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You shouldn’t do shit like that, Gabby. I was in a state of perfect happiness for 3 whole, fucking seconds …and then you took it all way…


  8. If Grinch had a proven record as a good Defensive Coordinator, then he would be getting a pass for this season, especially the Tulane game. But this year’s defensive effort has mimicked his previous three years at Oklahoma. There is a reason why CLR is now 1-4 in bowl games. Remember, Pete Carrol was 7-1 in BCS bowl games, because USC, except for the 2006 Rose Bowl Game, always played great defense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The 2006 RB defensive was patchwork from the unit that took the field to start the season……When the Ting brothers are your last option, what does that tell you…..

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Still, the best game in college football history, even though we came out on the wrong end……Vinny Young was a man on a mission….the Heisman snub was extra motivation

      Liked by 2 people

      1. With 10 minutes to go and a 12 pt. lead, Little Petey Pom-Pom’s bozos snatch defeat from the jaws of a NC victory.

        Just another humiliation in a long line of epic, Clown U FB choka, choka, choka choke jobs.

        Cue: The video of V. Young waltzing into the end zone untouched for the winning TD.

        Crabs, some things don’t change.


  9. Wish Caleb Williams would walk into Riley’s Office with Fuck Alex painted on his nails reading a “How to Enter the Transfer Portal” Pamphlet. Maybe the Message would get through.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The people who don’t know, speak. The people who do know are silent. Mr. Wolf put out a silly post on why USC is faltering at the end of the season but if he just goes back to his earlier season posts, he told all of us that USC will have to score 70 points to win games this year. Well, why would he say that? On USC two deep (that’s first and second string, Bruin trolls) USC had 8 seniors (which turned into 7 after Travis Dye’s injury) on offense for this year. The Defense had 7 seniors on their side of the ball. Stay with me, if the USC team this year had 3,795 snaps, how many players on USC had played that many last year or within two years that same amount during a game? 7 on both sides of the ball.

    What am I trying to say? When USC play teams with the same amount of experience they won. Notre Dame was an outlier. When they played teams that had more experience and more seniors, they lost. Oregon St. being the exception. When your betting money on these games, it’s the little foxes that you have to find. Fight On.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The whole strength argument is stupid as well by the way. At the end of his tenure, Pete Carroll’s teams were so strong that they couldn’t stop Jim Harbaugh and other teams from pushing them around. That’s the real reason Carroll left and all of you know it so go fly to Shangri-la with that myopic fluff about how strong Carroll’s teams were. Experience and confidence shows up when players express what they’ve embraced.


  12. SC defense played basically the same all year, cause it practiced the same all year. Football is a COLLISION sport, SC was like that the last several years and SC got pushed around the past several years’cause they practice in shorts and shells and DO NOT PRACTICE SMASHING YOUR OPPONENT football. Tackling is violent and so is blocking and it takes practicing in full football gear more than 1 time/wk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am going to perhaps correct my opinion. I read on another sight which I subscribe to, that the ncaa limits all teams to one full uniform/pads practice/week.That means tulane does it that way also, so it has to be the coaches or athletes or something other than the limited practices in full gear. I guess during the spring/fall practices it is different,but during actual season play it is 1 / week for tackling and blocking…which is majorly stupid for this sport, no wonder they get hurt during games.There bodies are not conditioned for violent collisions at all. I just read this ,so I guess it is true.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. One reason for the collapse – one of many – may have been the loss of Goforth. I don’t think he was an exceptional player but his experience playing all year had to have an effect when all of a sudden you don’t have him for the last game in a LB spot.

    Not having him in the Cotton Bowl could have affected how the coaches game planned and who they decided to use in his place after he entered the portal.


    Liked by 1 person

  14. I wouldn’t be too depressed. It was a very successful season. But if LR keeps Grinch and thereby wastes Calebs last season(a one in a lifetime season), I wouldn’t count on SC ever winning the NC under LR. They may win 10 or even 11 games in the next 4 or 5 years but not a NC and it’s because LR can’t make the hard decisions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Its not only a hard decision…it’s the right decision…


      1. MG
        Hopefully he will make the hard decision. Everyone seems to believe that he will hang on to Grinch as I think you also are convinced. I’m not so convinced of it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fire Grinch in a week or so. It’s a long shot. Most people will agree with you. I hope you guys are all wrong.
        Grinch had plenty of time to right this ship. The defense just got worst. The more time he spent trying to fix it, the worse it got. They gave up 39.6 pts per game in the last 8 games. That made them 80th in the nation in that category and that is considering that the 1st 6 games they did pretty well. In yards per game, they were 106th.
        There is no reason to believe that they will be any better next year simply because Grinch doesn’t have a history of great defenses. PC’s defense was not that good in 2005 by his standards. They had a ton of injuries that year(actually they finished 27th in points allowed and 40th in yards allowed). But PC had a proven history of great defenses. You could expect that that was just one freak year. Grinch really had hardly any injuries this year(Romello Height and Gentry for 3 games). This is the worst defense SC has had in a long time, far worst than any of the CH defenses. If he brings this guy back, then LR is a really stubborn guy.

        Liked by 1 person

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