USC managed to have a record-setting day yesterday against Arizona. Receiver Marqise Lee hauled in 16 receptions for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns, good enough to break school and Pac-12 records. Matt Barkley threw for almost 500 yards. And, yet, the Trojans lost to the Wildcats 39-36.
Seeing as there’s an explanation for just about everything, not entirely. There are some things that immediately stick out looking at the preseason No. 1 team now sitting at 6-2 and in the middle of an unexpectedly scrappy battle for a Pac-12 South championship. Depth has been and will be a concern for USC because of NCAA sanctions. Matt Barkley has three games this season where he’s thrown multiple interceptions. If all else fails, blame Lane Kiffin, right?
But there’s one stat that continues to haunt the Trojans with Halloween quickly approaching: USC is dead last in the country in penalties per game with 82 total for 677 yards. That’s just over 10 penalties a game for 85 yards a game. Against Arizona, USC had 13 for 117 yards, though it should be pointed out that the Wildcats had 14 of their own for 129 yards. In USC’s loss to Stanford earlier this season, the Trojans had seven penalties for 73 yards (Stanford had eight penalties for 68 yards).
Yeah, ugly. That’s not something you expect from a team with that much talent and that much experience in key areas. Blame Kiffin for play calling all you want, but a lack of discipline like that is definitely on his shoulders. In games decided by more than one touchdown, USC is 6-0. In games decided by a touchdown or less — you guessed it, 0-2.
Mistakes are magnified in close games, so it’s no wonder that the Trojans have dropped a pair when they needed to play more fundamentally sound even though their opponents have played mistake-prone football as well. If USC was able to cut those penalties in half, perhaps the Trojans would still be undefeated and in the BCS championship discussion.
Interestingly enough, USC’s next game is against Oregon, a team that also ranks among the worst in penalties per game. But giving the Ducks any sort of help has already proven lethal to eight opponents this season.
As a father five times over, I simply can’t imagine doing what D'Onta Foreman did last season.
On the field, the Texas running back was an absolute beast. He led the nation in rushing yards per game at 184.4 — next closest was San Diego State’s Donnell Pumphrey at 152.4 — while his 2,028 total rushing yards were second to Pumphrey (2,133). On Nov. 5 against Texas Tech, Foreman ran for 341 yards, the third-highest total in Longhorns history.
In a profile that appeared on the NFL Network, Foreman revealed that, unbeknownst to those outside of the football program, his girlfriend gave birth to a baby boy on Sept. 16. His son was born premature and weighed just 15 ounces at birth; 50 days later, the infant passed away — not long after Foreman’s historic performance against Tech.
In fact, Foreman learned of his son’s death as he was driving back to the hospital in Texas City after the game to be with him.
From HookEm.com‘s transcription of his interview with the NFL Network:
I always dreamed of having a boy and naming him after me and you know, just seeing him grow. You know, just loving him.
“He was a fighter, you know. He would like fight and he’s going to make it and everything will be fine.”
“I really didn’t know how to feel. I was like numb. I was driving and then I was crying while I was driving. I was crushed and I was so hurt. I feel like something was taken away from me before I even really got the chance to experience it.
While nothing can ever replace Foreman’s loss, there is a silver lining in his story as the back’s girlfriend is again pregnant. The due date? The same day D’Onta Vanton Foreman Jr. was born.
Foreman Sr. is one of the players who are part of the pool for the NFL draft, which will take place this Thursday in Philadelphia.
Utah has become the latest FBS program to lose a player via the increasingly-popular graduate transfer route.
Jordan Fogal announced on his Twitter page this weekend that, “after many prayers and long discussions, I found it in my best interest to leave Utah and look to transfer to another university. The specific destination for the continuation of his collegiate playing career was not divulged in the missive.
The safety described his decision as “very difficult” as he said “Utah and the fan base here will forever hold a place in my heart and I will truly miss this place.”
As a grad transfer, Fogal will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 at another FBS school. This upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.
After spending two seasons at the junior college level, Fogal played in 11 games the past two years. Fogal’s two interceptions last season were tied for fourth on the team.
The defensive back’s 2015 season came to a premature end after three games because of an injury. He then played in eight games in 2016 for the Utes.
The injury-plagued career of Jordan Brailford (pictured, right) in Stillwater is apparently showing no signs of slowing down.
While the football program has yet to confirm it, Oklahoma State’s student newspaper, the Daily O’Collegian, has reported that Brailford has undergone a surgical procedure to repair unspecified damage in his shoulder. The Oklahoman subsequently confirmed the initial report.
It’s expected that the surgery will sideline the redshirt junior defensive lineman for up to four months, which would put him back in time to participate in the latter portions of summer camp. The Oklahoman notes that, via a team source, “Brailford’s availability for the opener depends on how quickly he heals and strengthens the shoulder.”
OU opens the 2017 season against Tulsa Sept. 2, although that game could be moved to Aug. 31.
A three-star 2014 signee, Brailford took a redshirt his true freshman season after suffering a fractured tibia. After playing in 10 games the following season, he missed all of 2016 because of a stress fracture in his foot.
He’s already received a medical hardship waiver for one of those seasons.
Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.
Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.
The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.
“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …
“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.