Before he was a Pro Football Hall of Famer, Anthony Munoz was a standout offensive lineman at USC. In fact, he was a member of the Trojans’ 1978 national title team.

Things are a little different now. USC didn’t look anything like a national-title contender this past Saturday, as Alabama mauled the Trojans, 52-6.

Munoz was in attendance.

“It was ugly,” Munoz said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was very ugly. It’s obvious that we’re not back to where we should be after the sanctions, which were pretty tough. Even though I believe we’re back to the limit of scholarships, we just did not get the guys to compete with an Alabama, who has been loaded for years and they just continue to reload. You just got to hang in there. You just got to hang in there and keep playing and you got to play with who you have. I still think we have pretty good players. Hopefully they’re good enough to compete in the Pac-12. It’s one of those things. As a guy that still loves the school, still follows it, goes to a game or two – sometimes three – a year, I’m going to continue to support them. I love Clay Helton. I like the guy and I think hell do an excellent job, but it’s obvious that we’re not back to compete on the highest level of NCAA football.”

Looking at the NFL, it’ll be interesting to see if the Denver Broncos can still compete at the level they did last year, especially after Peyton Manning retired and several defensive starters signed with other teams. The Broncos lived in the Carolina backfield in Super Bowl 50, and they’ll need to do the same to have a chance in their season-opener on Thursday.

“You can have the best quarterback that year, and if you are all over him defensively, hitting him, knocking him down, sacking him, it’s going to affect the guy,” Munoz said, referring to Cam Newton. “And that’s what the Denver defense did in the Super Bowl. It’s one of those things where they knew the offense wasn’t going to win the game. Defensively, they were going to have to get it done and they did it. So I think that’s going to be a key tonight, to see how the guys handle it upfront that didn’t do very well against that Broncos pass rush in the Super Bowl.”

The Panthers will have a clear advantage over Denver in the quarterback department. Newton is the defending league MVP, while Trevor Siemian has never thrown a pass in the NFL. Newton is the rare NFL quarterback who inspires limitless confidence in his teammates. Munoz, who spent his entire 13-year career with the Bengals, felt that way about Boomer Esiason.

“Not only did I know (he would be great), but I think our whole offensive line knew,” Munoz said. “I had Kenny Anderson for four years, who, to me, is a Hall of Fame quarterback. And at the end of his career, the first time Boomer Esiason stepped in the huddle, we looked at each other and said, ‘This guy has it. He is going to lead us and it’s going to be unbelievable. This is a guy we will get behind.’ Honestly, the first time he stepped in the huddle, just the command he had for the offense, the smarts, the competitiveness, the intensity, the will to be the best – he was oozing with that and oozing with competitiveness and confidence. It was like, ‘Here’s our next guy. We know that he is the guy that we’ll be following.’”


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