It'll be easy for football fans to look at USC 24-17 loss at Autzen Stadium against the Oregon Ducks and say, "If only Pete Carroll had started John David Booty." It's possible, but not likely, that the outcome would have been different.
If you look at the last 2 offensive drives for the Trojans, my gut says that Booty wouldn't have thrown the game-ending interception to Oregon's Matthew Harper, but that same gut (which is anything but golden) says that Booty wouldn't have been able to engineer the devastating 4 consecutive passes that pulled USC to within 24-17 on the prior drive.
In the final analysis, this USC team should have never been in the position to need 2 late touchdowns to tie. The Trojans could have gone for the jugular....stepped on the throats of the Ducks...forced Oregon to play from behind for 55 minutes....but that, for some reason, isn't in this team's nature.
USC is on the road, at a very tough venue, and Oregon gives you the ball on a proverbial "silver platter" deep in their own territory after Andre Crenshaw's fumble on the opening kickoff. First a personal foul pushes SC into a 3rd & 20. Then, after hitting Joe McKnight, the Trojans wind up 4th & 1 at the Duck 12.
You've got a 6'4" bull of a quarterback who is a beast on a sneak. You've got Chauncey Washington and Stafon Johnson who are both powerful downhill runners. Instead, Steve Sarkisian decides to call a running play with a freshman whose tendency is to head horizontal way too often. Huh?
Too fancy. Too clever. Overthinking. Since the departure of Norm Chow, the playcalling has never been the same. I don't understand why Sark and, before his solo stint, Kiffesian (the Sark Lane Kiffin combo), don't ask WWCD. What would Chow do? Why "whittle" that one yard when you can take a sledgehammer to the ordinary Oregon offensive line.
I know what you're saying. "Mase, it's only 1 play, and it was less than a minute into the game." But, scoring there helps to neutralize the crowd, changes, to some degree, the mindset and approach of Dickson and Belotti, and reminds every Oregon player, coach and fan that this is still "the invincible USC, and they don't lose games like this one." Instead, Dickson gets the ball and methodically moves the ball 35 yards and changes the field position dynamic, ultimately leading to an Oregon TD 1 drive later.
Would a USC TD in the first 60 seconds have changed the outcome of the game? I say that the odds are much better that the Trojans win, and that they don't need 2 late touchdowns to tie.