We only beat them 38-10! Easy Trojan fans, no shark-jumping concerns just yet. Most teams need a few games to find themselves, and that includes USC. Yes, we have a returning QB, but the skill players around him are mostly new to starting games. Look at what happened to #5 Michigan yesterday. Look at Texas struggling with Arkansas State in Austin. Auburn (at home) barely beat out Kansas State. This is one reason why I agree with those who say we should wait until the first 4 weeks of the season have happened to start ranking teams. I am guessing Pete's main goals for the game were to a) win and b) protect Booty from injury and c) get as many guys into the game as possible. On those counts, he got what he wanted. No, USC didn't dominate, but we won the game handily. Even though it wasn't an Oklahoma-esque 79-10 romp, the game last night was NEVER seriously in doubt. I'd rather focus on the good things learned last night and assume the coaches/players can watch film to work on what needs improvement.
In terms of Booty's performance, it was good, but not great. However, two points to keep in mind: he lost his go-to receiver mid-week THIS week and the offensive play-calling was run-heavy, which didn't really allow the passing game to find a rhythm. I think Carroll/Sark were more concerned with trying to sort out the tailback situation, especially in the first half, which was a good call on their part as we seem to have some answers there. As the LA Times put it today, Booty is neither going to win nor lose the Heisman in a game against Idaho. Since the passing game wasn't the priority last night and Turner was out, I think I will hold off on judging the receivers. Yes, the Hazelton catch was insane and I think both Ausberry and Havili and Fred Davis will have a chance to do more at NE.
On offense, I think 'SC wanted to keep it simple, both to ease the new guys into their first game and also because they didn't wanna show off a lot of their game plan for the Cornhuskers. I'll take being labeled vanilla if it serves a greater good down the road. Speaking of which, I AM glad we have a bye week before the trip to Lincoln. I want Turner and Baker 100% for that game and I really hope we have Cush back. The atmosphere at that game is going to be a good first test for our team on the road; those 'huskers have had us circled on the calendar for a year now. As is so often the case with our opponents, their game against us is THE measuring stick for their program. Some other points:
As Paragon said, O-line looks solid. They did an amazing job opening up lanes and Kris had a good frosh start. The shotgun idea went out the window when we lost Spanos, because he was the one who had the reps for that with Booty. Scott Wolf mentioned the one time he saw O'Dowd try to center at shotgun, the ball sailed 20 yards past JDB. You can't pick that up the week of the game.
Gable and Johnson DID look good, and McKnight should be even better once he's 100%. I think Sark has to be happy that it looks like we have the run game back this year, since that will open up more options for the passing game.
Stanley Havili is a stud, although I kinda held my breath when he did that hurdling thing... we don't need to start breaking legs at that position again.
Speaking of legs, the kicking game looks SOLID. Both Buehler (wow, what a leg) and Woidneck delivered, although Greg wasn't called on that often. That could change when we play tough defenses, so I liked what I saw last night in that regard. Mario will be there in spirit, no doubt.
In terms of the defense, yes, the secondary did seem to sit back more than I thought they would, so I hope to see them attack more in the future. I liked the work from our LB corps (Williams and Matthews really got to shine a few times). Yeah, I would like more QB pressure from our D and more turnovers. I just don't hold the first game up as the template of what we will be seeing from them. As mentioned earlier, the big negative from last night for me was losing Cush; he's a playmaker and we need him back. BTW, our linebacking corps keeps getting labeled the best in the country, but I haven't seen that for our secondary. I'm happy to have them prove themselves in that regard as the season progresses, though.
I also want to give props to the Vandals for coming to play. It's hard to believe Enderle is a redshirt freshman and that was his first college game. Their RB Jackson ground out yardage all night long and Shiloh Keo played a GREAT game. I saw a pre-game interview with their coach and he was asked if he mentioned the Appy State win to the team and he said, "Are you kidding? I've been mentioning it all day!" I can't imagine how hard it's been to have four coaches in five years, so I thought they handled themselves spectacularly well on the field.
The season has finally begun and we're 1-0 and moving forward. The coaches and players will be watching film and tweaking plays for the big game in 2 weeks and I have faith that they'll come out firing. Let's leave a trail of corn meal in Lincoln on 9/15.