Monday, November 5, 2012

UCLA Rising and USC Falling.

Maybe I was wrong about UCLA all this time. All the apprehension I had this year is gone as they put the most points since I was in junior high watching them put up 66 on Texas and Houston. For the first time in 14 years, I'm confident saying that they will not only compete with USC, they're going to beat them in 2 weeks.

They dismantled a good Arizona team like they wanted payback for Arizona dominating them last year. I said they'd go 2-3 over the next 5 games and now 4-1 seems the safest bet. I might be crazy suggesting even 5-0 but I won't go there yet. I did fun trying to hide my glee in that video.

I'd also like to extend a personal congratulations to RB Johnathan Franklin, who became the school's all-time leading rusher during the game. As somebody who's been impressed with his leadership and skill since he was in high school, I salute him for being a model of hard work, faith and dedication.

Meanwhile, USC's practice should be live this week since they need to practice tackling and all the basics. I took some aim at defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin being the problem the last two weeks but I also praised Oregon (esp. Kenjon Barner) for putting the Trojans through the ringer.

Marqise Lee is on his way to perhaps winning the Biletnikoff Award as the best WR in the country and he can't save this team. They've abandoned going to Robert Woods more consistently and perhaps have hurt his draft stock in the process. The Trojans should be lucky that Nelson Agholor gives them hope for this season and the next 2 because after this year, the fall could continue even more.

And in case you've been missing the work I've been doing for the good folks at Rant Sports, here's the link to my page. The most recent story is a homecoming for former All-State/McDonald's All-American Larry Drew II, the best high school PG I've covered so far in my career. I'll be doing stories later this week on the Pac-12's top players and freshmen to watch.

I'd also like to send thoughts and prayers to the 4 victims of the Halloween shooting at USC's campus. One of them was former City Section Player of the Year/All-State 1st Teamer Geno Hall, formerly of Crenshaw HS. Hall was shot 7 times according to reports and remains in critical but stable condition. I got to know Hall and his Crenshaw teammates very closely in 2009 when the Cougars went to the state bowl game so it saddens me more than usual that he was not only shot at, but may have been the target.

Fortunately Hall will survive, but it reminds me of athletes who aren't as lucky. Dannie Farber was killed 3 years ago and seeing his old high school Narbonne 2 weeks ago reminded me of being at his funeral. Jamiel Shaw was killed 4 years ago and his killer just received the death penalty over the weekend. I pray Hall and the other 3 victims will recover and grow to be grateful of that second chance instead of bent on revenge.

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