Well, since Matt and Reggie left I never thought I would see the day where the offense would have to bail the defense out at USC.
Oh yeah, the defense definitely did their thing early on but I can't remember seeing a Pete Carroll defense get carved up by an opposing tight end like we saw Saturday. USC was so intent on stopping 'Quizz Rodgers that they totally forgot about OSU TE Joe Halahuni.
Halahuni had nine catches for 127 yards. I was stunned at how often he was open. Pete Carroll fell right into Mike Riley's trap and it could have had a terrible effect if it wasn't for Matt Barkely and the offense doing what they needed to do to keep OSU at arms length.
I don't think anyone was expecting to see the game we saw on Saturday.
On Saturday against Oregon State, USC for the first time found itself in a shootout at home.
With the help of tailback Allen Bradford and another big punt return from Damian Williams, the fourth-ranked Trojans outlasted Oregon State, 42-36, in front of 89,718 at the Coliseum.
"This was a different game than we hoped to have," USC Coach Pete Carroll said. "We were scrambling trying to slow them down."
The victory improved USC to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference and kept the Trojans on track for a possible berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
But on a warm night, playing at home for the first time in four weeks, the Trojans got all they could handle from an Oregon State team determined to show that last season's upset of the then-No. 1 Trojans was no fluke.
I really did not know what defense I was watching on Saturday but the offense seems to have finally found its stride and they are going to need to be hitting on ALL cylinders next week when they travel up to Eugene to play the Ducks. The defense looked lost out there because they were so focused on stopping the run and OSU put the pressure on the secondary by spreading them out when SC committed to stopping the run. That left Halahuni open to run wild underneath. I was surprised that OSU did not use their motion blocking more like the did last year. James Rodgers had one play where he broke through for a big gain. SC still has fit s with that and because 'Quizz was not in the game for most of the second quarter OSU had to adjust their game...
It could have been really ugly.
Barkley did not have his best game even with the nice throws to Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson. Barkley even described his game as mediocre.I would agree with that assessment. Yes, Barkley threw for two TD's and rushed for another but his 2 INT's kept the Beavers hanging around...
Barkley passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another in the first half. However, he finished with two interceptions. And another interception was nullified by a penalty on Oregon State for a late hit on Barkley.
"I didn't think he was as sharp as he’s been," Coach Pete Carroll said. "We went after these guys pretty good. He was called on a lot to throw downfield. ... He just had a couple miscalculations."
I realize it isn't always going to be perfect this year, so as long as he progresses in his overall performance and as long as we win I am fine with a stinker here or there.
SC had a hard time putting these guys away...and they will be tough to beat next year in Corvallis.
The Trojans took a 19-point lead after Williams returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but that didn’t keep Oregon State from clawing back into the game.
"We couldn’t separate," Carroll said. "We had so much momentum on offense, and then there was the punt return, but we just couldn’t stop them. It just made for a frustrating night. We couldn’t get them off the field."
Oregon State scored two consecutive touchdowns to make the game a one-score possession before Barkley and the offense ran out the clock.
"I’m very proud of our team for their effort," Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said. "Nobody blinked. A lot of times, it looked like when USC scored, it would be hard to get back into the game, but we always kept trying…
"USC is very impressive."
Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass despite an ankle injury, and his brother, James Rodgers, gained 194 all-purpose yards and scored on a seven-yard pass. Beaver quarterback Sean Canfield completed 30-of-43 passes for 329 yards and three scores in the losing effort.
More than a few think that there are a lot more questions on defense than there are on offense.
We're usually convinced by now.
Shoot, we're usually convinced before the first hamstring of spring ball is stretched.
But here it is, Halloween week, and we're still trying to figure out just how good USC's football team is this season.
Good enough to go 6-1 with road victories over a ranked Ohio State and a ranked Notre Dame? To be sure.
Good enough to get strangely pushed around by Notre Dame late and Oregon State throughout? To be sure.
I was definitely having a Maalox Moment towards the end of the game.
One of the keys to Saurday's win was Allen Bradford.
Two years ago the rumors were flying under the radar that Allen Bradford was going to transfer form USC. I got a tip that his lack of playing time was was frustrating his family and that there was some pressure for him to transfer. I had a story all ready to go...but he never pulled the trigger.
I have in the past questioned why we heard all the great things he was doing in camp and in practice but never making it on the field.
Then there was his hip surgery that shut down his season last year. I was skeptical about whether or not he would be effective after this surgery but he kept on working and Saturday it paid off.
For months, for years, Bradford, frustrated with his lack of playing time in USC's tailback by committee rotation, openly talked of quitting, and leaving USC. And for months, for years, the voices talked Bradford out of running away.
Saturday evening, Bradford looked into the eyes of a fallen teammate and was finally given wings. Stafon Johnson didn't say a word, couldn't say a word. He didn't have to.
"I went to go see him I almost cried, I almost teared up because of just the energy that he brings," Bradford said of the pregame appearance of Johnson, recovering from emergency throat surgery last month after a weight-lifting accident. "We all got love for him and when he was in there I just felt like I'm going to run hard for him."
If there was ever a definition of the Trojan Family this is it...
Many of us have wanted to see Bradford get a fair shake and on Saturday we got our wish with his break out game.
I do not know what the future holds for Bradford but no one can deny that we are all happy to finally see Bradford get the touches.
The other person who came back to life was Ronald Johnson...
Johnson, a junior who suffered a broken collarbone during training camp, made a diving catch for a touchdown in the Trojans' 42-36 Pacific 10 Conference victory over Oregon State on Saturday night at the Coliseum.
Johnson missed the first five games of the season before returning last week against Notre Dame.
He had one catch against the Fighting Irish on a pass that tipped off the hands of fellow receiver Damian Williams, but otherwise struggled to play at his regular game speed.
Last Tuesday, Johnson remained sore and said he was still struggling to regain his pre-injury form.
But on Saturday night, Johnson looked like he was at full strength early in the second quarter when he dived to grab a Matt Barkley pass for a 22-yard touchdown and 14-6 lead.
One final note...the Pac-10 suspended one official for missing the the face-mask call on Taylor Mays' hit on James Rodgers in the end zone when he scored in the 4th quarter.
The Pac-10 Conference has suspended an official for one game for missing a facemask call on Taylor Mays during the USC-Oregon State game on Saturday.
Mays ripped off James Rodgers‘ helment in the end zone, but no call was made. The Pac-10 did not name the official who’s being suspended, but Commissioner Larry Scott did issue this statement:
"Our members expect a high level of officiating in all our sports, and the conference office shares that expectation. We have taken this action in light of the blatant and dangerous nature of the missed call. We have full confidence in our highly trained and qualified staff of football officials, but they, like the coaches and players, are accountable and must meet the high expectations placed upon them."
What about the non-calls in the ND game?