Bears’ big loss puzzles Carroll
Pete Carroll will begin searching today for clues, reasons for why California seemingly imploded a week before a showdown with the Trojans.
Cal’s 42-3 meltdown at Oregon dropped the Golden Bears from sixth to 24th in the Associated Press media poll.
“It was so far out of character and out of line with that they’d done up until this point,” Carroll said Sunday.
Cal’s fall makes Saturday’s matchup between the Trojans and Golden Bears a game between top-25 rather than top-10 teams.
After a 27-6 victory over Washington State, USC moved to seventh in both the AP and the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ polls.
The Trojans (3-1 overall, 1-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference) also are seventh in the first Harris Interactive poll, which is part of the formula for the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Meanwhile, Cal (3-1, 0-1 in the Pac-10) is looking to bounce back like the Trojans did Saturday after losing at Washington a week earlier.
“They looked great on film, throwing it well, running it well, playing good defense,” Carroll said of the pre-Oregon Golden Bears. “And all of a sudden: 42-3. It’s kind of hard to figure that one out to tell you the truth. I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing.”
The Trojans have their own issues to address before traveling to Berkeley.
First and foremost: Cutting down on penalties. They racked up 13 for 115 yards against Washington State -- seven for 75 yards in the first quarter.
Carroll spoke to players about the problem in the locker room after the game.
On Sunday, he tried to find a silver lining. “We weren’t lashing out or hitting guys late,” he said. “They weren’t penalties for guys making dumb mistakes. . . . It’s really technique-oriented.”
The Trojans also will work this week to improve their performance in third-down and short-yardage situations.
USC has converted only 11 of 44 third-down attempts and four of eight fourth downs.
“It’s an area of concern,” Carroll said. “It’s not something that we’re accustomed to.”
Fangupo, Jones are out for the season
Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo and defensive back Marshall Jones will miss the rest of the season because of injuries sustained against Washington State, Carroll said.
Fangupo suffered a broken leg and had surgery Sunday. Jones suffered a cracked vertebra in his neck, an injury similar to the one that sidelined Shareece Wright last season, according to Carroll.
Nick Perry got two of USC’s eight sacks against Washington State, keeping him atop the Pac-10 statistics list with six for the season. Not bad for a redshirt freshman who has yet to start a game for the Trojans.
Asked to explain his success, Perry said, “I can’t really say -- it’s just a feeling when I get out there. Once I get in the zone, it’s like me against the quarterback.”
Garrett Green mishandled the snap on the Trojans’ first extra-point attempt against Washington State, not realizing he had suffered a concussion while making a tackle on the opening kickoff. Carroll said a Jordan Congdon field-goal attempt that fell short was due in part to his being out of sync with holder Billy O’Malley, who replaced Green. . . . Linebackers Jordan Campbell and Nick Garratt suffered ankle injuries against Washington State and their status for Saturday’s game will be determined this week, Carroll said.
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