USC speed aside, Cavs must atone

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Maybe they'll feel differently after viewing the tape. Or if they embark on a significant winning streak. Or if Southern California proves unbeatable.

But in the immediate aftershock of their nationally televised football flogging Saturday, Virginia's Cavaliers were disgusted.

"We just made a lot of mistakes … that had nothing to with them," safety Byron Glaspy said following the Cavs' 52-7, season-opening defeat at Scott Stadium.

"Our attitude about our team is, it's not OK to play like that," coach Al Groh said.

Correct on both counts.

No matter how many Usain Bolts the third-ranked Trojans have at running back and wide receiver, and regardless of all the LaShawn Merritts they boast at linebacker and safety, some breakdowns can't be excused.

Like allowing a fourth-and-1 toss sweep to become a 33-yard touchdown.

Like watching a receiver run virtually uncovered on a post route that turns into a 49-yard score.

Like netting 32 yards on your first 15 plays.

Like fumbling away a simple shotgun snap.

So transpired the Cavaliers' most lopsided loss in 21 years, the worst at home in 24.

USC scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, outscored Virginia 28-0 after intermission and outrushed the Cavaliers 218-32.

"It wouldn't be right for me or anybody to say that anybody played well today," Groh said.

Indeed, why try to sugarcoat it?

Sure, Mikell Simpson outraced the Trojans' defense to the left pylon on a 7-yard, first-quarter touchdown sprint. And yes, freshman receiver Jared Green caught three passes, and linebacker Antonio Appleby intercepted one.

But those were anomalies.

"We were ready for them," freshman defensive end Matt Conrath said. "We thought."

Truth be told, there's no getting ready for a team of USC's caliber when you play in a second-tier conference such as the ACC and simply aren't accustomed to a game contested at warp speed.

Why, it seemed the Trojans had more top-flight skill folks than Hillary Clinton does glass-ceiling cracks.

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