After escaping a turbulent three minutes in Salt Lake City to beat Utah, USC had an opposite turn of events in its 24-14 win in Seattle against Washington. In a very strong first half, the Trojans jumped out to a 24-7 lead behind excellent running by Silas Redd, lockdown defense and signature John Baxter special teams play. The offense sputtered in the second half, scoring, well, zero points. Here are three takeaways from last night’s affair in the Emerald City.
Defense doing work
Once again, the dominant unit was not the one led by a pair of Heisman candidates and a few All-Americans (the offense, in case you were confused). It was the defense, with Morgan Breslin continuing his reign of terror on opposing quarterbacks. They took down Keith Price five times on the night and allowed just 14 points. Oh, and don’t forget the two key Price fumbles that ended the game. (And just to have this in there, major props to Anthony Brown, who blocked a punt AND returned it for a touchdown.) At its current rate, this defense could definitely limit the Oregons of the country. But, ya know, the other main part of the team needs to step it up. Speaking of which…
The offense still has issues
This was supposed to be the highlight of the 2012 Trojans. This was supposed to be their key to the season and ticket to Miami. The running game was really good in the first half, sure. But man, that second half performance. They prematurely shot their (offensive) wad and had something of a mess on their hands. They were unable to do much in the second half against Huskies defense. Redd carried the team all night, going for 155 yards and a score on 26 carries. But Matt Barkley was 10-for-20, and Marqise Lee had just two grabs. The playcalling is still not where it needs to be. Lee DID have an "oh my god, this kid is freaking ridiculous" touchdown grab that was wiped off because of…
Stupid, stupid penalties
Of course penalties were a big deal! They have been all year. Ten for 70 yards? Ick. Aundrey Walker had a killer hold on Lee’s ridiculous touchdown grab, a pass that went through the hands of Xavier Grimble and into Lee’s. A false start here, a holding there. This has to stop. Against Notre Dame’s staunch defense, losing key yards for mental errors just cuts your own hamstring.
The team gets a reprieve with Colorado coming to the Coliseum next Saturday. Five of the Trojans’ last six games are in L.A. Hopefully the light travel bodes well for the team by the end of November.