Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hector's Heel | by Jay

Looking at the NCAA statistical rankings, the Trojans are pretty poor on special teams.

Special Teams
Avg Yds
Rank (of 117)
Punt Returns 5.0
Kickoff Returns
Punt Return Allowed
Net Punting Average
28.92 110th
Kickoff Return Allowed

• Punting stats are a little skewed. The Trojans have only punted 8 times. Likewise, the Trojans have only returned 8 punts. (Reggie Bush must have some kind of magnetic repulsion that forces punts away from him.)

• That said, ASU's Terry Richardson took a punt 84 yards for a touchdown against the Trojans.

• Kickoff coverage is legitimately terrible. The Trojans have covered 29 kickoff returns (among the most in the nation), and their average of ~26 yards given up is 8th-worst in the country. Every team the Trojans have faced has broken off at least one long kickoff return:
Hawaii Andre Taylor, long 40 yards
Arkansas Felix Jones, averaged 36 yards over 4 returns, long of 67
Oregon Sherrod Davis, long 31 yards
Arizona State Terry Richardson, long 49 yards
Arizona Syndric Steptoe, averaged 32 yards over 5 returns, long of 76
• Carroll's on a mission to fix kickoff coverage, however, adding two starters to the kickoff coverage team this week:
This year, the Trojans' kickoff team is in shambles and Carroll wants to make immediate changes. He said starters he took off the kickoff team, like linebackers Oscar Lua and Thomas Williams, will probably return at the expense of reserves like Josh Pinkard, Fred Davis and Rey Maualuga. "In the past we've used more starters on kickoff teams, but we've been kind of thin this year," Carroll said. "`We've given the young guys a shot, but it's hard for them."
• The Trojan's kicker, Mario Danelo, is a sophomore walk-on, and he's 2 for 3 with a long of 36 yards. He missed from 42.

• On a side note, not only are the special teams terrible, but Southern Cal is also among the most penalized teams in the country, ranking 92nd in penalties accrued.
Penalties 42
Yards Penalized 351
Penalties per game 8.4
Yards per game 70.2

What kind of malfeasances are we talking about?

9 false starts
7 personal fouls
6 defensive offsides
5 offensive holding
4 unsportsmanlike conduct
2 roughing the passer
2 illegal blocks
2 delays of game
1 pass interference
1 ineligible receiver downfield
1 intentional grounding
1 illegal formation
And an illegal shift (in a pear tree.)

They tried to clean this up against 'Zona, and they were successful to some extent. USC had six penalties for 60 yards Saturday, nearly half of what it had in games against Arizona State and Oregon.