PULLMAN – Early on in Friday’s game, USC diagnosed a tendency in Washington State’s field goal protection when the Cougars lined up a 50-yard kick for Blake Mazza. So the Trojans adjusted their own setup when Mazza trotted back out to try to tie the game with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Afterward, USC players and coaches seemed to think the change in scheme is what allowed Jay Tufele to get a paw on the 38-yarder and ultimately seal a 39-36 win over WSU.
It may have been part of the story, but the Cougars also believe this was a self-inflicted wound.
Said first-year special teams coach Matt Brock: “We just had a breakdown in communication on one side, it’s something we’ve got to get fixed. On me. We’ll work on it and get it fixed this week in practice.”
Brock expanded: “We were working a different technique that we do and like I said, a breakdown in communication and didn’t execute it real well so something we’ve got to get fixed moving forward.”
The Cougars haven’t squandered too many opportunities on special teams through four games this season. They’ve already recorded a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and first-year punter Oscar Draguicevich III leads the country in net yardage. Additionally, Mazza was 5-of-6 on the season before his field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
But Brock still laments one of the critical mistakes that cost the Cougars a chance to sneak away from the Coliseum with a rare win. And he’s taking ownership for it.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” he said. “It’s on me and it’s got to get fixed and you’ve got an opportunity, offense drives down and you’ve got a chance to tie the game and you don’t get it done because we don’t protect. Yeah, absolutely I take ownership for it.”
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