How should fans feel about the start of UCLA and USC 3-0?
Card: Satisfaction is not a state USC fans are used to, but then Comfortable three consecutive victoriesThere is no reason why they cannot be completely happy with what they saw. Was it perfect? of course not. Is the defensive front a concern? definitely. But the attack is as advertised, averaging over 50 points per game, and while the USC defense gave up a lot of yards, it still allowed under 20 points per game. The Trojans continue to trend upward, and if they manage to break out of Corvallis with a major victory on the road, they will already be gassing.
As for UCLA, well…I imagine there is a completely different feeling among Bruins fans.
McCullough: Yes, it depends a lot on whether you wear blue and gold or cardinal and gold. UCLA fans can be relieved that they didn’t suffer an embarrassing loss South Alabama, but they should also be concerned about a Washington-Utah-Oregon stretch after another cupcake in Colorado this week. If the Bruins don’t improve quickly, they could be 4-3 before we know it. I know USC fans are excited about the team’s start, and they should be. The Trojans appear as contenders for the Pac-12 title and playoff berth. Fabulous.
Nguyen: I understand why my fan base is a little worried. They have been injured before. They are not ready to trust again. We have all been there. If I were a fan of USC, I would be much happier. If you are not happy with this crime, there are some life priorities to solve. The defense still calls for questions. For UCLA fans, they’ll need more Bruins. Winning an early easy schedule will never be enough. They had to win in a convincing and elegant way and that wasn’t the case.
polish: UCLA might be the most unsettling 3-0 team in the country given all the negative feedback about low attendance and spotty play against poor competition. Here’s the thing: If the Bruins can get to 5-0 with a win over Colorado and No. 18 in Washington, their wagon will overflow again and at least one group of fabrics will have to come out in the Rose Bowl for a game against Utah on October 8.
What surprised you the most about USC?
Nguyen: The brutal efficiency of crime. We knew they were going to be good – with conversions like this, that was taken for granted – but to be good, that fast? I didn’t expect that to happen.
Card: Three-headed Trojan Hasty Attack Travis DyeAnd the Austin Jones And to a lesser extent, a student Ralik Brown It far exceeded my expectations. Riley has insisted since his appointment that he was committed to getting away, and so far these three have delivered in a big way. Dye and Jones crossed 100 yards and ran against them Fresno State. Brown has been nursing his sore ankle since week one, when he was the most explosive player on the field for USC. Don’t be surprised if it becomes a larger part of the attack, making this back three more lethal.
McCullough: I’m so amazed how excited I am to watch every Saturday (unfortunately, it looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer to watch the After Dark slot). We all knew the offense would be improved Lincoln Riley And the star is moving on, but I was pretty surprised by Riley’s recent attack in Oklahoma and was curious if he was missing a bit of his pixie dust. I think not. USC is so much fun to watch, and Riley seems just as connected as a theater caller like he was early on with the Sooners. Sometimes, all that is required is a change of scenery.
And what surprised you the most at UCLA?
polish: Maybe this is new Defensive Coordinator Bill McGovern It really is Jerry Azzinaro 2.0. For all the talk about NFL passing concepts and the renewed vibrancy they brought into the Bruins’ defense, their show against South Alabama was a throwback performance, and not in a good way. It sparked a terrifying reminder of the over-cushioned defensive linebackers succumbing to and the failure to adapt quickly enough, in this case on the Jaguars game screen. Either it will spur a needed change or be a harbinger of disappointment later in the season.
McCullough: I would say how much has been put on the shoulders Dorian Thompson Robinson To get this team 3-0 against this schedule. The assumption was that Zach Charbonnet might lead the country in a rush at this point, but instead he didn’t reach 200 yards and reserve Keegan Jones had the same number of carriers. Of course Charbonnet’s health was a factor, but he’ll need to be the man we saw last season if UCLA is to position itself in the Pac-12 game.
Nguyen: In the Unwelcome Surprises category, I was baffled by some early mechanical errors like not making sure the kicker was wearing the right jersey. With a coach who has been on the program for five years, you would expect these things to be taken care of, even at the start of the season. No wonder the fans are not ready to fully believe in this team. They still make some old mistakes.
How concerned should USC fans be about the running defense?
Card: It’s not quite DEFCON 1 yet. But it’s not great, Bob! USC ceded an average of 177 yards per game on the ground, which could prove to be a serious problem once they finally hit an opponent capable of slowing their sharp attack and controlling the clock. Outside of Tuli Tuipulotu, who is pretty much a game destroyer, USC doesn’t have much of a lead along the defensive line. This group should improve, but any hits to the front can make the situation a lot worse, much worse than more dynamic burst attacks, like the Oregon attack, testing trojans.
McCullough: We knew that Trojans weren’t going to be built to be a costume of stuffing. The biggest problem with not being able to stop the run is that opponents will be able to keep the ball out of Caleb Williams’ hand. This will definitely be Oregon’s plan on Saturday night.
Nguyen: Fans must mentally prepare themselves for life on edge for the remainder of the season. It could be a year-long “boom or crash” defense as the Trojans hope to cover up their mistakes in a running game with big bags or ready-made meals. It has worked so far, but the model doesn’t look sustainable.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson finished last season at a high level and vowed to show how much he’s learned from past mistakes. What has he shown so far?
polish: Thompson-Robinson was consistent enough to keep the Bruins undefeated, but conceded that misunderstandings in the flop delivery to Charbonnet and the match against Jones during the South Alabama game could cost the team later in the season if not corrected. Thompson-Robinson typically gets into a better groove the deeper he goes into the season, so I expect his best is yet to come — and UCLA will need him in three games against the nationally ranked Washington, Utah and Oregon.
McCullough: The DTR completion increased to 72.6, which is an average of eight yards per carry. He does so with an inferior group of playmakers around him as well, especially when you consider that Charbonnet was limited. DTR needs more help, but he’s proven up to the task and backed his words back up.
Did the first three weeks change your view of the Pac-12 Championship race?
McCullough: I’m more intrigued by this Conference race than I was at the start of the season, when Utah, Oregon and USC seemed to be the only legitimate threats to take the crown. Washington’s dominant showing against Michigan State No. 11 and Washington State’s big win in Wisconsin put the Apple Cup teams in the heat of battle. Washington’s offense went through one of the country’s biggest transformations as Michael Bennex Jr. threw some talented receivers that clearly wasn’t being exploited enough. It looks like five teams are vying for these two coveted locations in Las Vegas, and Oregon State has a great opportunity Saturday night to put itself firmly in the mix as well.
polish: Who would have thought after Utah and Oregon’s first-week losses that the Pac12 would be in a position to put a team into the college football semifinals for the first time since Washington pulled it off in 2016? The top half of the conference is as strong as it has been for some time, which makes for fun matches every week.
Nguyen: Back buck, friends. I was really impressed with some of the non-conference shows (not you, Colorado), and it looks like there are a number of legitimate contenders in the tournament. The rapid rise in the Pacific Northwest was a huge surprise, especially with Washington and Washington State winning 3-0 with wins arranged under the first-year coaches. Even old UCLA friend Jedd Fisch had some positive results with Arizona. This time last year, the wildcats were losing out to Northern Arizona.
Card: None of the Pac-12 side were more pleasantly surprised than the Huskies, who seem to have finally found a capable coach. But the most important takeaway is that no crime in this conference – and perhaps the state – is able to keep up with the USC if the Trojans are shooting all cylinders. Putting this to paper though, would probably doom Caleb Williams & Co. to attack by beavers on Saturday.
Nguyen: For the record, Washington ranks fourth in the country for total attacking with 548.3 yards per game. USC is 11 with a score of 520. Both UW and Oregon State score 18 offensive touchdowns to 17. USC leads in scoring with 50.7 points per game, but that includes the three defensive touchdowns against Rice. So Trojans are not the only powerful attack in Pac-12.