Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lane Kiffin –One hurdle cleared four more to overcome

Lane Kiffin’s return to USC was not a well-received move in 2010. There were literally two factions of people; those that felt the Kiffin received too much too soon and was not worthy of leading the USC Football program and those that felt that it was great to bring a former Trojan back into the fold.

The above-mentioned factions quickly turned into people in two categories fans or detractors. Kiffin won eight games in year one, but lost to Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Notre Dame. NCAA sanctions, Injuries and youth are all factors, but the fact remains that BCS football is a results based business. Kiffin is in a win now situation.

The Notre Dame game was a ‘move-the-needle’ game for Lane Kiffin. Imagine a meter if you will, USC fans and alumni moving the needle in said meter one-way or the other. The interesting question before the Notre Dame game was if USC fans and Alumni felt that Lane Kiffin was the right person for the job now and for the future of the program.

Many people responded 'no' to the above-mentioned question. USC has a tough Pac 12 conference schedule to deal with every year. However, the fact remains that as a Trojan, you attend USC to beat Notre Dame and UCLA.

Several of Kiffin’s detractors felt that Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly was the better coach in the match up. More detractors felt that Notre Dame with a more senior-laden team would beat USC because of their experience. Many will judge Lane Kiffin’s success or failure against the success of his predecessor Pete Carroll. The same guy that several of Lane Kiffin’s detractors thought was the wrong choice at t time.

USC won 30 – 17 on the road as a 9.5 point underdog in South Bend in front of national audience, a signature win for Lane Kiffin. Head Coach Lane Kiffin and staff had USC poised and ready to beat the Irish. QB Matt Barkley WR's Robert Woods and Marquise Lee were solid in the passing attack. Woods has produced an amazing 72 catches for 902 yards and 8 TD's on the season. Surprisingly, the running back tandem of Marc Tyler and Curtis McNeal produced 175 yards and balance for the offense. Kiffin was able to get WR/RB George Farmer the number one recruit in the nation innvolved to show his potential.

In the 83rd edition and first night game of a rivalry that dates back to 1926 it was USC that turned out the lights. USC is 6-1 on the season; more importantly, Kiffin’s record is 14-6. Several big games remain on the 2011 schedule, but the fact of the matter is that Lane Kiffin is the right person for the job.

The next challenge on the schedule for the Trojans the #6 ranked 7-0 Stanford Cardinal at the Coliseum as a 7.5-point underdog. The headline match up, Andrew Luck vs. Matt Barkley, the better team and QB will win this game. The Cardinal is one of the most dominant teams in college football. Stanford has the second best offense in the country, scoring-wise. The Cardinal uses a trio of versatile Tight Ends on offense capable of making plays in the passing game and as in-line blockers, but controls the clock and the game with their dominant running game. The Trojans have won one of their last four games against Stanford after going 5-0 from 2002-2006.

The hits keep coming, after the nationally televised match up against Stanford; the Trojans face some huge challenges. Against the Washington Huskies at the Coliseum on November 12 (thanks to two field goals former USC offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian is 2-0 against his former team). On the road in front of 54,000 at Autzen Stadium against the Oregon Ducks on November 19 (Oregon has outscored USC 100-52 in the last two years) and closing the season against the UCLA Bruins at the Coliseum. Lane Kiffin and the young USC Trojans still have a lot to prove and continue to work at the task at hand taking it one game at a time.