USC's Galippo: Trojans 'couldn't find the ball'

November, 3, 2009
11/03/09
9:56
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

USC's defense had a horrible game against Oregon, and this quote from Trojans linebacker Chris Galippo to the Los Angeles Times sums it up beautifully.

"Every once in a while you get your butt kicked, you get your face shoved in the dirt," Galippo said Monday after watching tape of the game. "That's what happened.

"They out-executed us. We came out slow. We just really couldn't find the ball and they were doing everything right."



Carroll told reporters Monday after watching tape of the 47-20 defeat, the worst loss of his nine-year Trojans tenure, that the defensive plan was too complicated, but the part of Galippo's quote that is bolded sums it up better for me.

I recall a number of times seeing Galippo -- and others -- chasing a guy who didn't have the ball. It reminded me of a few years back hearing a Husky Stadium crowd roar with approval as the Washington defense stacked Jonathan Stewart at the line of scrimmage. Only Dennis Dixon was skipping down the sideline for a long touchdown run without anyone even looking at him -- not the defense, not the TV cameras, not the crowd, not the reporters in the press box, who were convinced it must have been a trick play, not just a basic read-option keeper.

When Oregon's spread-option offense is at its best, it thwarts sound defensive schemes that account for the various options on running plays. In other words, ball fakes by Dixon then and Jeremiah Masoli now make it extremely hard to find the ball, and defenders often let go of their responsibilities -- "I've got the QB! I've got the QB! But the running back has the ball! Er, no he doesn't!"

In the old triple option, the defense had straight-forward keys: fullback, quarterback, pitchman. A defense could get faked out, but it immediately -- within a split second -- knew what had happened.

Not with the Ducks. Chip Kelly schools his quarterbacks on ball fakes and misdirection maybe better than any coach in the nation. You often see defenders, their heads swiveling, spend one or two clicks scraping the wrong way.

In all the offenses I've watched in person, I don't know if I've seen one that consistently hides the true location of the ball as well as Oregon's. The gaps of nonrecognition from a defense -- and audience -- are palpable when the Ducks are clicking.

And not knowing where the ball is can be a problem when you're playing defense, particularly against an offense infused with great speed.

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