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USC Football: A Historic Low for the Trojan Defense

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin watches the USC Trojans warm up for their game with the Virginia Cavaliers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IOctober 4, 2011

There were two historic records set in USC's game last Saturday with the Arizona Wildcats. One belongs in the Heritage Hall of Fame—the other in the Heritage Hall of Shame.

As all USC fans know by now, unless you have been in a coma since Saturday, Matt Barkley broke Carson Palmer’s single-game passing record with a 468-yard performance. 

Barkley and wide receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee had an incredible day. In fact, Woods came just five yards shy of tying the USC single-game receiving record of 260 yards.

However, on what was a tremendous, record-breaking offensive day, there was one record that this year’s Trojan defense cannot take pride in. USC has been playing football since 1888. That’s some 124 years. In all that time, no Trojan defense has ever given up 40-plus points in back-to-back regular season games.

If you recall Pete Carroll’s 2005 team that played for the national championship, you will remember that ironically it had a horrendous defense. It gave up 42 points to Fresno State and 41 points to lose the BCS title to Texas.

However, those two games were not back-to-back. USC routed UCLA 66-19 between the Fresno State contest and Texas title match.

Carroll also had a sieve for a defense in his final season at USC in 2009. That was the team that gave up a record 55 points to Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford Cardinal in the “What’s Your Deal?” game.

Two weeks earlier, the 2009 defense gave up 47 points to the Oregon Ducks, but the week after they gave up only nine points to Arizona State in a 14-9 win.

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 7:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans walks on the sideline against the Arizona State Sun Devils on November 7, 2009 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.  USC won 14-9.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
Jeff Golden/Getty Images

Of course, some might say that giving up 43 and 41 points is not nearly as outrageous as surrendering 47 points and a record 55 points. However, be mindful that the season is not even half over yet. Stanford and Oregon are still on the schedule, as well as Notre Dame and Washington.

The way the Trojan defense has played the past couple of weeks, any one of those teams is capable of hanging 40-plus on USC. Both Stanford and Oregon are quite capable of racking up over 50 points on the Trojans.

I am sorry if I have brought up any depressing memories from the recent Trojan past, but I feel that as ugly as Pete Carroll’s defenses were in 2005 and 2009, this current defense could be even uglier.

I, for one, along with a host of other Trojan fans, certainly hope not. However, the current coaching staff needs to realize that this is not Trojan football despite the sanctions and the youth and inexperience of a few of the players.

In fact, it is the inexperienced players on defense like Dion Bailey, Hayes Pullard and Lamar Dawson, when healthy, who are playing exceptionally well.

The coaches and the leaders on defense need to step up and admit to themselves, just as we fans have admitted, that this kind of play is completely unacceptable.

If they don’t step up, then Pat Haden must step in and make the necessary changes at the end of the season that will bring back Trojan football as we have come to expect it.

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