The frustration that the defense felt after the Oregon St. game had to be tremendous. Yes the D line got pushed around and there was some lack luster play due to just mailing it in but SC still had issues trying to stop Rogers. When you cant see them coming its going to be tough to stop them but last night they saw what Oregon was going to do and after the Ducks scored their only TD the defense adjusted and they locked them down. Of course everything has to be in sync, so while it wasn’t a pretty performance in the early going SC figured it out and made it work. The adjustment was one that SC used against OSU but this time with D line standing its ground and getting penetration it worked and Oregon’s two running backs who thought that they were going to get 100 yards each didn’t do much at all.
The USC defense held Oregon, the top rushing team in the Pacific-10 Conference, to a meek 60 yards on the ground.
Or about 250 yards below the Ducks' average coming into the game.
The reason for those numbers was because of safety Kevin Ellison. His coming up and being the eighth man in the box went a long way to stiffing Oregon's running attack.
Ellison's presence as the "eighth man in the box" – the football term for the safety who joins the defensive linemen and linebackers for run-stopping duty – had a lot to do with USC shutting down Oregon's prolific ground attack Saturday night in a much-needed, 44-10, bounce-back victory.
Ellison was involved in a team-high 12 tackles – all in the first half, when the tenor was established and the game was decided. And no, it wasn't a case of Ellison cleaning up the mess left by others. He repeatedly crept up near the line of scrimmage to help absorb the blows from Oregon's 1-2 punch of Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount.
The two entered Saturday night's game averaging a combined 184.2 rushing yards per game.
They had just 35 in the first half, which ended with USC leading, 27-10.
When the advantage grew to 37-10 late in the third quarter, the Ducks had to abandon the run and play a game they didn't want to play.
The first half played out right in Ellison's comfort zone.
There were a lot of passes that should have been picked off last night once Oregon was forced into passing situations but none of it could have happened had the defense not put forth a superior effort when compared to the debacle in Corvallis.
The defense, once they settled in put up a pretty good performance and the "new look" that we saw due to injuries or previous poor performances didn't affect us for the worse. Good or bad, it was different not seeing Rey Rey in the game because of his injured knee. It was odd, but it also gave some of our depth a chance to step up and show what they can do. Cushing did a great job at MLB and Michael Morgan, before leaving the game with a concussion, played solid in his first start.
A team simply can't turn on a switch and say they going to get motivated they have to come into a game with a certain mind set. A team also can't get angry to the point of letting their anger get the best of them and negatively affect their play on the field, they have to sometimes just get back basics.
When they are at their best, the Trojans are all about balance on offense, but quarterback Mark Sanchez and his receivers will have to sync up better than they did in Corvallis to punish the Ducks.
If the Trojans do take out their frustrations on the Ducks, they may make a resonating statement to pollsters that it's premature to count the House of Troy out of the national title race just yet. Not that Carroll is interested in talking about rankings or big picture stuff like that.
Exactly, the outside noise is for us fans and the media, SC just needed to settle in and find its game. Some people seem to miss that, it isn't always pretty. As long as SC is working through their issues and getting positve results I can live with an average game in terms of performance especially after last week.
Look at Alabama, after smoking UGA they looked aboslutely pedestrian against Kentucky. Yes, UK was undefeated but with what I saw Alabama do to Clemson and UGA in the first half they are clearly ahead of schedule but they are not immune from average play. Heck, they looked pretty pedestrian in the second half of the UGA game.
I would love to see solid wins every game but the fact is it doesn't always happen and sometimes you have a lot of stinkers but still get the win. Some days style points work other days they don't.
One thing that stood out was USC's confidence on that 4th and 2 play where Williams scored his TD.
Saturday's fourth-and-two in USC's 44-10 win over Oregon could never, in terms of historic significance, match the other fourth-and-two.
The difference, though, was that this one worked for USC, and it was the key play in one of the more important bounce-back games Pete Carroll has faced in seven-plus seasons as the Trojans' coach.
USC was down, 10-3, in the second quarter, a week and two days removed from being down 21-0 in an ultimate Thursday night defeat at Oregon State.
The Trojans had to beat Oregon to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time since a Washington-Stanford combo early in 2001 -- Carroll's first season.
But things weren't going well. A roughing the holder penalty on USC allowed Oregon to take a field goal off the scoreboard and trade it for a touchdown.
USC had first-and-goal from the six and had to settle for a field goal.
Then, down by a touchdown, USC faced fourth down at the Ducks' 34.
You knew Carroll was going for it -- he usually does.
Instead of a run, though, the coaching staff went for the kill.
Mark Sanchez found Damian Williams, wide open, streaking down the left crease and hit him on his No. 18 on the way to an easy touchdown.
"Beautiful call," Carroll said of Steve Sarkisian, his offensive coordinator. "But it wasn't one you make to make the first down."
I like the swagger of that play, it showed a lot of confidence that was missing last week.
You saw a little bit of it when Mustain came in as well. I wasn't happy with the INT he threw but I liked the play that was called as showed some aggressiveness on Sarkisian's part to try and get Mustain's confidence up. I actually thought it was a pretty good play by the defender more than it being a poor decision on Mustain's part. It wasn't his best performance there but he made up for it later on the TD to Ausberry. Speaking of Ausberry, he is absolutely huge! I would love to see him get some more touches. It was also nice to See Travon Patterson get into the game.
Let me briefly address the last TD that Mustain threw to Ausberry. I know Mike Bellotti was not happy about it and I can understand if it was the first team in there running up the score but this was the second and third stringers, at home, getting their chance to make some plays and show the staff what they've got. The game was well out of hand and the spread was covered so what's the difference. If it was on the road up at Autzen I could probably see his frustration.
so there are still some issues and kinks to work out but this had to be a big boost to SC's confidence. next week its ASU who is coming off a bad loss to Cal. I still think the Pac-10 is up for grabs...