This article highlights many of the failures of USC’s offense to disguise its plays or in any way confuse the opposing defense.
Play No. 1:
Situation: 2nd & 9 from SC 37 (11:11 left in 1st Qtr) … on SC’s fourth offensive play of the game, Lane calls his second horizontal pass — though ‘horizontal’ is being generous, as the pass is actually six yards backwards to Nelson Agholor, who can’t shake the cornerback; the play goes for a five yard loss, setting up 3rd & long. Note that on the play, the entire left side of the Wazzu defense seems to know what’s coming, as both the DE and CB rush straight into the backfield to disrupt the play.
Play No. 2:
Situation: now 3rd & 14 from SC 32 … on the very next play, Cody Kessler lines up in shotgun and hits his primary receiver (Darreus Rogers) on a 5-yard out into the boundary (i.e., near sideline) and straight out of bounds: 4th Down & Punt Time. Note that four receivers went into the pattern and NONE of them ran a longer route than Rogers at five yards, raising the question of why pass the ball if you’re not interested in getting a first down?
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Play No. 3:
Situation: 3rd & 2 from SC 41 (3:35 left in 1st Qtr) … is the fifth horizontal throw in seven pass attempts to start the game, Lane calls a bubble screen — once again into the boundary (this times with trips) — resulting in Marqise Lee catching the ball 3 full yards behind the line of scrimmage, dancing around when defenders swarm, and losing a yard: 4th Down & Punt Time. Note that four Coug defenders immediately bolt into the flat to swarm Lee: they knew exactly where the play was going.
Play No. 4:
Situation: 3rd & 9 from WSU 21 (11:57 left in 2nd Qtr) … following two no-yardage plays after a recovered fumble in Wazzu territory, Lane calls a wide swing pass to Tre Madden on 3rd & Long. It is already the third time Lane has called for a pass behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd Down, and we’re barely into the 2nd Qtr. The play is clearly designed to set up a shorter field goal try, but Madden breaks a couple tackles to get within a yard of a first down. Madden runs for a first down out of the Wildcat on the next play, and SC is in the end zone two downs later.