USC offense failing to meet expectations

The expectations were enormous for USC coming into the season, primarily on the offensive side of the ball.  

There was the dynamic playcalling of Lane Kiffin, who appeared to dial up all the right plays at the right time at the end of last season.

He had his major toys returning. After all, it was supposed to be like a video game. Matt Barkley was the leader out of the gate to win the Heisman trophy. Robert Woods and Marqise Lee were primed to return as the top wide receiving duo in the country.

Four of five offensive linemen returned as well as a 1,000-yard rusher, Curtis McNeal. Another much heralded 1,000-yard rusher, Silas Redd, showed up from Penn State just days before the start of camp.

The expectations were humongous. The last time this team was seen before the start of the season, they were putting up 50 on UCLA. Woods and Lee looked like world beaters with 337 receiving yards between them on 25 catches.

That was the lasting impression heading into 2012.

It begged the question, how are opposing defenses going to stop the Trojans offense?

Then came the season opener at Hawaii. On the first play from scrimmage, Lee took a short out 75 yards for a touchdown. One play. Seven points.

Once again, how are defenses going to stop the Trojans offense?

However, the impressions left as the Trojans enter the midway point of the season have been underwhelming. Five wins, yes, but USC fans are less than satisfied and less than fulfilled by what the team has done on offense.

If the defense surrenders 21 points, it seemed to be a no-brainer the high powered USC offense would be able to put up more than enough points to win the game. That wasn’t to be at Stanford. The Trojans were shutout in the second half and lost the game.

Last Saturday, at Washington, the Trojans were again shutout in the second half. It was up to the defense to save the day.

The USC defense was expected to be much improved, but not the strength of the team through six games.
The offense has sputtered. “Prep Not Hype” is the motto but has this offense succumbed to all of the preseason hype set before them?

Were the expectations, simply, too unrealistic?

“I understand the frustration of our fans that we’re not putting up the numbers that we’d all like to, but at the end of the day we’re going to do the best thing to win,” Kiffin said. “It’s halfway through the year, so who knows? Maybe those numbers are on their way.”

Maybe they are.

At the halfway point last season, the Trojans were averaging 430 yards per game last season. Over the last half, they averaged just over 482 yards per game. Through six games this season, they’re averaging just over 415 yards per game.

Barkley’s thrown for nearly 300 yards less than he had at the same point last season. However, he had 16 touchdown passes on his way to a record 39. Today, Barkley has 16 touchdown passes.

The expectations weren’t for the Trojans offense to be even with 2011’s production and certainly not worse, but better. A lot better.