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USC - Arizone State: post-game coverage

The general theme of the coverage of last night's game reflects this exchange last night between me and Paragon:

11:48 PM Paragon SC: where was that earlier in the season.
11:49 PM DC Trojan: no kidding - amazing what they can do when they're healthy and get some practice in

This was a game where more starters were healthy than not, and the coaches opened up the passing game a bit for Booty:

Emboldened by Booty's return to health, 47 days after he suffered a broken finger on his throwing hand in the 24-23 loss to Stanford, USC's offensive coaches revamped their playbook, installing a batch of play-action passes and screens that flummoxed Arizona State.

Loaded up to stop the run, and boasting a strong pass rush, ASU was pummeled into submission with Booty swing passes, balls thrown underneath and, later, deep crossing routes that Booty delivered with almost unerring accuracy.

Booty completed 26 of 39 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Even more impressive, he did it with no dominant running game, as USC gained 3.6 yards per carry.

And from the LA Times:

Against Arizona State on Thursday night, Booty repeatedly rolled out of the pocket on designed plays en route to his best performance of the season and one of the most productive of his career.

"We wanted to do everything," Coach Pete Carroll said Friday of the passing game strategy. "Not just drop back and not just roll out. Use everything."

Booty accounted for all five USC touchdowns -- four by passing -- in the Trojans' 44-24 victory over the seventh-ranked Sun Devils. The win kept USC in the hunt for a sixth consecutive Pacific 10 Conference title and a possible spot in the Rose Bowl or another Bowl Championship Series postseason game.

"For him to come out and play well in a big game, there was a sense of 'I did it,' " offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said of Booty.

As for the broader context, a few quotes:

From Plaschke:

Remember the top-ranked, all-world, future-champion 2007 USC football team?

They're here.

They're a day late and a national championship short, but they're here.

With a full moon over their heads, gifts under their arms and wonder in their eyes, the Trojans swaggered back into the college football landscape Thursday like they owned the joint.

From Oberjuerge:

The king isn't dead, after all.

Dismissed as yesterday's news only 20 days ago, dirt shoveled on them, the fall of their empire dissected and debated, the USC Trojans rolled into Tempe ... and laid waste to seventh-ranked Arizona State, 44-24.

The national championship USC aspired to back in September still looks out of reach. Too many teams have to lose in too little time.

But the 11th-ranked Trojans are a victory over UCLA away from winning a share of their sixth consecutive Pac-10 title. And an Oregon defeat from going to their sixth BCS bowl in six seasons.

Not bad at all, for guys we consigned to the mortuary.

USC's obituary was written Nov. 3, the day the Trojans lost 24-17 at Oregon to fall to 6-2.

It was the End of the World as USC Knew It.

The Trojans had returned to the ranks of the ordinary. Ordered back to the gray masses who aspire for secondary bowls played sometime around Christmas.

But that also was before the Trojans began getting healthy.

On Thursday, USC started its first-string offense - all 11 guys - for the first time this season. From quarterback John David Booty to center Matt Spanos to tackle Sam Baker.

And Arizona State was overwhelmed.

A couple of player quotes:

USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson hit Rudy Carpenter with a pop that sent a shiver through the Arizona State quarterback in the third quarter.

The hit left Carpenter with a split lip and bubbling frustration. Carpenter threw his helmet 15 yards toward the sideline while he was spitting blood and cursing.

"He's a feisty guy," Jackson said after USC's 44-24 win over Arizona State on Thursday night. "We were having some words at the coin toss. He's always been a good quarterback, very resourceful and hard to get down. I told him we were going to come after him today. Then I got his lip a little bloody; he was pretty upset and said not so nice words after that play."

And the third [ touchdown ] came only because an Arizona State drive was kept alive after Trojans defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis sacked Carpenter for an 11-yard loss on a second-and-10 play. Ellis walked away from Carpenter, raised both arms and flexed his muscles. For that Ellis was penalized 15 yards for taunting.

"I've been doing that for two years," Ellis said. "I've never been flagged for that before. Different refs see different things. I had no intent to be malicious. It's a celebration I've always done. I won't be doing it anymore."

That's using the old noggin, Sed, keep at it.