Jeff: Due to the holidays and family obligations, I have not been able to watch the game again. I look forward to watching it again without the emotion of live viewing and seeing how truly terrible (or not) those games are. However you slice it, a lot of things didn't go the Eagles' way and BC still had a chance to beat Pete Carroll and the mighty Trojans. You have to be happy with that, right?
Brian: By no means did the Eagles get outclassed by USC in the Emerald Bowl. The Eagles were able to hang with the Trojans for most of the game and went into half in what should have been a 14-14 tie ballgame. That part of the game everyone has to be pleased with. If only games were played in 30 minutes and not 60, for it was the second half that left a lot to be desired with some costly mistakes.
When you mention things not going the Eagles’ way, I’m assuming you are referring to two costly reviews that went against the Eagles. The first one in the second quarter occurred when Matt Barkley hit Williams on the sideline for what appeared to be a 38-yard completion. After the referee’s review was inconclusive, the call stood and two plays later, the Trojans pushed the lead to 14-0.
The second was the punt return in the third quarter that was clearly kicked by D.J. Shoemate. After the review, the refs concluded that Dominick LeGrande blocked Shoemate into the ball so the ball went to USC. Hard to play "what if," but if the Eagles had won both of those challenges, this one could have had a much different outcome.
Jeff: On to the disappointments. Are you more surprised that Montel Harris' fumbles cost us two games this season or that our QB play did not improve much as the season went on?
Brian: Harris’ fumbles clearly hurt the Eagles in this game and the game against Notre Dame, but I think the bigger surprise has to be the up and down season from freshman QB Dave Shinskie. Shinskie played really well in the first half and put in a fine statistical performance - 8 of 13 passing, 159 yards, 1 touchdown. 61 of those 159 yards came in the pitch-and-catch TD to Rich Gunnell in the second quarter. In the second half, however, things unraveled. Shinskie missed receivers badly, stayed in the pocket a bit too long, and threw for 6 of 20 passing, 59 yards and the interception that basically sealed the Eagles’ fate.
It was a tale of two halves for Shinskie that Eagles fans unfortunately have become familiar with throughout the season. I would go with Harris as the bigger surprise here, but I think what is hard to swallow is the contrasting performance between freshman Matt Barkley (27-of-37, 350 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) and Shinskie (14-of-33, 218 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). For all the maturity that Shinskie has over Barkley, Shinskie was clearly upstaged in this game by a freshman seven years younger than him. The contrast in the two QB’s performance and development in their first season is somewhat concerning.
Jeff: It was tough to tell with no BC band marking the BC section and all the ponchos covering the fans' team shirts and jerseys how many BC fans were there in attendance vs. USC fans or vs. the 2003 Emerald Bowl. Since you were there, were there more BC fans there since we were playing USC instead of Colorado State or was it about the same crowd. Just from watching on television you could tell that the crowd was much larger as a whole than it was back in 2003.
Brian: The official attendance was listed at 40,121 which is a far cry from the 25,621 that showed up in 2003. It was hard to say though if there were more BC fans that in 2003 since most fans were wearing jackets or ponchos. I sat in the BC section and that was relatively filled up with a few USC fans spread throughout the section. There were plenty more fans in the upper deck but I couldn’t really tell who they were cheering for since most of the upper deck sections sat in the last few rows to get shelter from the downpour. Before the game and during tailgating, however, I would say it was easily 10:1 in favor of USC fans. I still don’t understand the decision not to bring the band but bringing the cheer squad and Baldwin. Isn’t that pretty much a package deal? I was pretty disappointed the band wasn’t allowed to make the trip and that definitely detracted from the overall experience.