Barkley holds his own, the defense neutralizes Pryor but some questions emerge...

Where to start...

While we are all giddy about last night's win in Columbus we did see some things last night that should cause some concern. Now, I am not saying we need to light our hair on fire over some of these things but we do need to keep an even keel as we head up to Seattle to take on the Huskies.

As I said last night in the post game thread I saw three things that stood out that made SC's night difficult last night...

First...Special Teams was absolutely atrocious. For all the pissing and moaning we have heard about not having a special teams coach having one didn't seem to help with the poor punting and missed field goal.

Second...It didn't matter how many running backs we had in The Stable never was able to get up a lather to really be effective because the Offensive line was getting pushed around by their D line. But Props to Joe McKnight for stepping it up at the right time!!

Third...The defense did a great good job against Pryor, he made some plays...a few nice throws and some key runs but lets not get crazy he was not Vince Young tonight...At least not yet.

Lets talk about the defense first...They were the ones that kept us in the game last night with some key stops in the second half. Griffen's sack that took Ohio State out of field goal range was the biggest play of the game in my opinion. In the first quarter the secondary showed some disorganization with being out of position on a few big plays. Pryor made some sweet throws that just had the right touch that gained some big yards but he he wasn't as effective on the run...he made some plays for good yardage and some first downs but he did not control the game like a Vince Young.

As an aside, for the life of me I can't understand why Jim Tressel is trying to show the world that Terrelle Pryor can throw the ball...that is the last thing that should have been on his mind last night. He should have used Pryor's speed and agility to eat up chunks of yards.

Our "young" defensive front got some penetration and the linebackers made some great plays but the secondary got caught flat-footed early in the game for some big plays but once they adjusted Pryor was not as effective in the air. The OSU running game was average last night as Boom Herron gained only 44 yards. Pryor only had 36...that is telling to me. The SC defense did their job...

Chris Galippo made an interesting observation...

"I wouldn't say there was a doubt but it was more like the defense coming together and saying, 'The offense isn't really doing it, so we'll do it,'" Galippo said. "If we hadn't had a goal-line stand, the game would be over."

Safety Taylor Mays said the defense expects to carry the burden with a true freshman at quarterback.

"We know sometimes they will struggle, especially with Matty at quarterback," Mays said.

That is exactly how it should be...sometimes one unit has to pick the other up, that is the definition of team work...these guys are in it together.

Special teams was just awful...SC never got a chance to return a single punt as the OSU put coverage was superb pinning SC back deep in their territory on just about every kick. When we punted the ball the kicks were not as effective as we have been used to the past few years and always seemed to give OSU decent field position. The high snap for a safety was a complete mental breakdown as the snap should have been lower and the punter should have caught it. SC also doged a bullet on a punt later in the game when the OSU punt rush over flew the punter for what seemed to be a sure block deep in SC territory. The kick-offs were average with OSU getting a chance to get some decent returns. The short field goal that hit the cros bar was embarrassing too.

I realize that we now have a special teams coach but I don't care how well you coach them if the players don't have the talent coaching will only get you so far...

As for the running game...I was surprised that C.J. Gable did not get any touches. It was obviously the Joe McKnight show especially on that last drive but because the OSU defense was getting some great push against the SC O line the running game looked anemic for much of the game. We really should not be surprised as the OSU D line has a number of futre NFL draft picks that pinned their ears back and played lights out for most of the game until that final drive.

So lets talk about Barkley...

It was definitely a growing experience for the kid last night and he seemed unfazed by the whole experience...

The questions that had dogged the USC football program for several weeks were stunningly answered Saturday night with two words.

Matt. Barkley.

"He's no longer that young freshman quarterback," said Jeremy Bates, USC's quarterbacks coach. "He's now the starting quarterback at USC."

Period. End of story. Beginning of stardom.

Those who questioned Coach Pete Carroll's sanity, those who thought a true freshman should never be the starting quarterback for a championship-contending team . . . were you watching? Were you listening?

Easy there Bill..Barkley is not the second coming. He still has a long way to go but Barkley did not have a meltdown like Matt Hayes predicted earlier in the week...

It is fair to say that Barkley had some pedestrian type numbers last night going 15 of 31 for 195 yards with 1 INT, but the key throws were on that final drive where Barkley was 3-5.

The cliche' we will hear and read about over the next few weeks was that we watched Barkley grow up last night...Maybe. It is obvious that the final drive will become part of USC Football lore. It was a gutty performance against worn OSU defense who was simply asked to do too much last night. Barkley's one pick was similar to Pryor's but there was little damage to the overall outcome of the game. He go it out of his system and he settled in...

SC did do something that they haven't had to do many time before...come from behind to win.

In the previous four seasons, USC was 7-6 in games decided by seven or fewer points. That's with Heisman Trophy winners and first-round draft picks under center.

Here, the Trojans trailed Ohio State 15-10, completely on merit. Their gains were incremental. Their poise was teetering. Their eardrums throbbed. And their quarterback never had played a collegiate game in front of dissenting strangers.

The final: USC 18, Ohio State 15, with Matt Barkley getting the ball on his 14 with 7:15 to go, retreating to the five, and then leading his elders downfield to Stafon Johnson's run with 1:05 left.

"There are no words to describe Matt Barkley," guard Jeff Byers said. "He goes to the loudest stadium I've ever been in. He gets the ball on the 14 and then we go backwards. And then he takes us down for the win. As a freshman. I mean, come on. He's remarkable."

That is a character builder...

I was a little surprised at some of the comments I saw on Facebook from Jay Christensen (aka the Wiz of Odds) and Chris Huston (aka Heismanpundit) about Barkley's performance...Christensen felt that if Aaron Corp had started, SC would have beat OSU by two touchdowns, Huston agreed becasue he felt Corp would have made plays with his feet. I have great respect for both The Wiz and HP but I think that is flawed thinking...the OSU defense was flying towards the ball last night, they put 8 guys in the box and dared Barkley to throw, thus the running game never really got going until the end when they wore down the OSU defense and while I would agree that Corp is more of mobile threat the OSU defense would have tracked him down too...there is simply no guarantee that corp would have done better.

To me it was all about penetration and the OSU defense was getting plenty of it all night...

Gary Klein pretty much sums it up...

The Trojans overcame special teams miscues, poor field position and Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor to improve to 2-0 heading into their Pacific 10 Conference opener at Washington.

Tailback Stafon Johnson's second short touchdown run with 1:05 left put the Trojans ahead to stay.

"This program is all about finishing," wide receiver Damian Williams said. "We finish blocks, we finish runs and we finish games.

"Tonight we showed the world how we finish."

Barkley, running backs Joe McKnight and Johnson, the Trojans' offensive line and the defense showed a record Ohio Stadium crowd of 106,033 that they would not be intimidated, even after going into halftime tied 10-10 and trailing by five points midway through the final period.


It may not have pretty and SC may have been shown some flaws in their game but you always need a little luck on your side and SC got just enough on the backs of a great defense, the tenaciousness of a great offensive line and the patience of a kid who just goes out and haves fun...

This is Pete Carroll's type of team!


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