Loss Just What The Trojans Needed

By Adam Caparell - November 15, 2006


There’s no doubt that USC is playing its best football of the year. And Trojans coach Pete Carroll thinks his team’s loss to Oregon State Oct. 28 was the catalyst behind the improved play.

Call it a wake-up call. Because that's what Carroll basically described it as.

“I’ve been really reluctant you own up to that,” Carroll said. “But the fact remains that sometimes the hardest lessons are the strongest and send the best message.”

Trouble establishing a consistent running game, an inability to create turnovers and a lack of defensive pressure was plaguing the Trojans during a run through the Pac-10 that saw them squeak past Washington State, Washington and Arizona State. Their problems finally caught up with them in that 33-31 loss in Corvallis.

Of course, Carroll would like to have that game against the Beavers back.

“I don’t know if we needed that message at that time, but we’ve responded from it,” Carroll said.

Since, the Trojans have simply played more complete. They’ve cut down on the mistakes and Carroll’s been very pleased with his special teams play. Despite the fact that he has a relatively young football team, Carroll said he’s seen a little sense of urgency from his players after the Trojans dropped their first conference contest in 27-games.

“I hate to think that’s what you need, but our team has really rebounded well. We’ve had great focused work and we’ve played our best football since and most complete games, back-to-back, since,” Carroll said.

Thanks to the losses by several one-loss teams last weekend, USC was vaulted right back into the national championship picture. But to get there, the Trojans are going to have to survive a difficult final four game stretch that started with the Ducks last week and will end against UCLA Dec. 2.

In between, USC gets Cal this weekend and Notre Dame Nov. 25, both at home.

There isn’t any talk about the BCS, but there’s plenty of talk about the Rose Bowl, where the Pac-10 champ will wind up unless they’re ticketed for the BCS Championship game. Carroll said he would sell his team on the fact that this matchup with Bears is for the conference championship and a fifth consecutive Pac-10 title.

“I don’t think that’s looking ahead,” Carroll said. “I think if we were talking about some other bowl game that would be looking ahead. This is an extraordinary opportunity to clinch a championship for us.

“I have to acknowledge the reality of it.”

Posted by Adam Caparell at 03:31 PM on November 15, 2006
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