September 26, 2008

McKnight says loss is on him

CORVALLIS, Ore. - In the moments after USC's 27-21 loss, members of the Trojan football team took their uniforms off in the locker room.

Most of them wanted no part of anything that had just occurred Thursday night.

Joe McKnight, though, sat in his locker. His head was down. And even though over 70 of his coaches and teammates were just a few short steps away, McKnight was alone.

"It's my (expletive) fault," McKnight said. "Turnovers, dropped passes - this loss is on me. I'll take it. I (expletive) fumbled the ball. I dropped passes. If you want to blame anyone, blame me."

McKnight carried the ball seven times for just 10 yards, and he felt the entire weight of the USC loss on his young shoulders.

"My game didn't come to me. I made bad plays. I tripped us up, It's my fault," McKnight said. "You can't blame the offensive line. You can't blame the defense. You can't blame nobody but me. I fumbled. I dropped a punt. I dropped the pass. It's all my fault."

McKnight certainly didn't look like his usual explosive self. He would shake off one Beaver tackler only to be run down by two more.

His longest run was 5 yards.

While he wasn't frustrated, McKnight looked desperate to make a big play.

"He's a highly competitive kid," USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. "I think it's only pressing when things aren't going well. If things go well, we all love it.

"That's how Joe plays. I don't second-guess his game at all."

If anything, Sarkisian and the rest of the Trojans would refute McKnight's assertions that USC's first loss of the season falls solely on him.

"We all had a hand in this loss," quarterback Mark Sanchez said.

There were plenty of mistakes to go around, including a late interception that lead to an Oregon State touchdown and a 13-point lead.

As Sanchez walked to the Trojans' locker room, he ripped off his wristbands and started to unravel the tape on his wrists and hands.

"You can't throw a (expletive) interception," he said to himself.

Sanchez and McKnight weren't the only two players to put the blame on their own heads.

Fili Moala said he took Jacquizz Rodgers' success as personal failure. Kevin Thomas dropped an interception. The offensive line didn't give Sanchez the same kind of protection he's enjoyed in the Trojans' wins.

In the disappointment and heartache of the loss, USC players didn't blame one another; they blamed themselves.

Thursday at Reser Stadium, it wasn't the individual efforts that cost USC. The problems were bigger - missed tackles, dropped passes, missed blocks… the list is seemingly endless.

It all leads to one undeniable truth. Oregon State deserved to win. USC deserved to lose.

It wasn't on McKnight. It was on everyone.

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