DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Attack Cat: November 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm Back

...and Some Thoughts on USC Football

Truthfully, to be back, I'd have had to have actually gone somewhere and while I have traveled since the last significant post, I was no where that could not be touched by that thing we call "the internets."

But the internet is like Starbucks. It's everywhere, but that doesn't mean you have to go in.

The funny thing about being back is that I'm not at home nor am I even in my home town. Currently, I'm situated at Café Madeleine, on O'Farrell near Market St., in San Francisco. I'm in town for the Stanford game. That's USC at Stanford. I should clarify that for those who don't already know that this is partisan territory.

My dear friend Steve was given some sweet, 50-yard-line seats for the game and he extended the invitation to me to come up and join him, and who am I to say "no"? (I was just trying to figure out a clever answer to that rhetorical question, but I couldn't. The closest I got was, "I'm no one to say 'no,' that's who I am," but it didn't really tickle me enough, but apparently it tickled me enough for this lengthy aside.)

I just flew into Oakland this morning at 9am. The game's at 4pm. I'm excited. By all reports, this should be a cakewalk, but all enthusiasm should be tempered with the proper amount of skepticism after last week's loss to the Beavers of Oregon State.

Sure, enduring the first regular season loss in three years was a little hard, but it wasn't as hard as I imagined it might have been. I was ready for a loss. I was ready for a loss this season halfway through last season. Last year, I knew we had a great team, so a loss would have been more devastating. I knew last season that this season we'd have a different team and that the same couldn't be expected of them.

What I wasn't ready for was the loss in the Rose Bowl. After that, while expecting we might not have a perfect record this year, I wanted to win even more. It became more and more evident that we probably wouldn't keep up that spotless regular season record after a few close games this year, but losing to Oregon State was unexpected.

I still haven't decided if it was harder or easier to take after looking at the game stats. Anyone can see that we beat ourselves by turning over the ball four times, but then you look at Booty's numbers. Sure, he threw a shitty pick in the end zone, but other than that, this kid had stellar numbers for the day. His stats at this point in the season are still better than Leinart's at the same point in his rookie season. Had our receivers caught a few more of his catchable passes last Saturday and had our pass blocking been a little bit better, everyone would be singing the praises of J.D. Booty and we'd probably still be an undefeated team.

All that said, there's something of a feeling of relief now that there's a positive digit in the loss column. As if playing college football for an elite team isn’t hard enough, these kids have been carrying the burden of team's record from the past three or four years, going back to Carson Palmer's senior season. I think and hope that the team can now create, what many have felt the team's been lacking most of this season and that is its own identity.

Regardless of when and where they play, the USC football team is going to carry the burden and be carried by the tradition of Trojans of years past. Some days it's going to grab at their ankles and make them feel like they're running from the boogey man in a bad dream. Other days it's going to send them soaring above the clouds, etching their names in the legend that is USC football.

Fight On!