Oct. 10, 2001
By Nick Murphy
A day after our third straight victory of a non-conference opponent, the excitement to play Pac-10 games is already evident in my mind and heart. We totally dominated our non-conference schedule outscoring our opponents 154-49. Now the real work starts.
USC may be the best 1-4 team in the history of college football. All of their losses have come at the hands of nationally ranked teams, and all have been extremely close games, an average USC loss in 2001 has been by less than 4-points. As we head to the Coliseum in L.A. next week, we know what a large challenge looms in Trojan country.
This weekend will be the first real test our team had faced since Stanford. However, two straight blowouts (regardless of the teams we beat) give us a lot of confidence. In addition to confidence, we have had some extra time to work out the kinks and get the younger players more experience.
The offense seems to be working on all eight (or sometimes 10 and 12) cylinders. Our special teams are coming to together, and the defense is hitting the quarterback and disrupting opposing offenses nicely. However, we still have a lot of work to do before next Saturday afternoon in all three phases.
The USC game is a must win for us if we want a legitimate shot at contending for the Pac-10 championship. Not only will a win even our conference record to 1-1, it will give us the momentum of three straight wins going into the heart of our conference schedule.
Games like the USC one are what we spent so many hours working for this summer. It will be a true test of our focus, determination, desire, and execution. I don't expect to find a depleted Trojan team simply because they are 1-4. SC is one of the most talented teams in the Pac-10 year in and year out, and they are playing very hard this year.
With all the potential that USC brings to the table this weekend, I still don't believe that there is a team that wants to succeed anymore than we do. This week in practice will set the tone for how we play. I know that practices will be intensely focused and we'll be ready to work hard to achieve our goals. We have proven we can score. We have proven we can stop opposing offenses. We have proven that we can execute on special teams. To win against USC it will take all of the aforementioned executed flawlessly for four quarters. I know we can do it. We must do it! Go Devils!
Nick can be reached via email at MurphysLaw84@aol.com