It wasn't pretty and questions remain but there were some things that I saw that I liked...
Last night the USC offense came out hot!
They took three plays to score a TD on their first drive. By the time the first quarter ended they had scored twenty points. And then the offense did not score another point until the 4th quarter.
Let the gnashing of teeth begin...
I said in my game day notes that USC was not going to cover the spread (the spread was unrealistic to begin with). They didn't. We all know that Pete Carroll does not like to run up the score. He didn't. The last time I checked a win is a win and with all the carnage within the Top 25 yesterday USC is right back in the hunt provided they continue to win...by one point or a hundred, it does not matter to me. I can see why some are upset that USC did not go for the throat early and often. Well, they did early but they transformed into the conservative offense so many of us have come to loathe.
I am actually more ticked off over the continued lack of discipline and sloppy ball control. There were some stupid penalties out there last night but I also know that once again USC is being singled out more than their opponents on some of those personal foul penalties.That has a lot to do with how the offense is run. When you are looking at first-and-long or second-and-long deep in your own end it does change the complexion of the scheme you run...especially if you don't have faith in your punting unit. Harfman actually had a solid night as the punter with 40+ yards per kick. But lets see that sort of production on the road...
It is clear that Jeremy Bates is still bringing Barkley along slowly. You could also make the argument that Bates is still getting his sea legs in the college game. You could also make the argument that Pete Carroll is still pulling the strings.
Here is Pete Carroll's take on last night's performance...
Here’s what the coach had to say after USC’s 27-6 victory over Washington State:
The way I look at this game is, it’s great to win. It’s fun to win at the Coliseum. We love doing it. But we’ve got a lot of work to do. It was just not the kind of satisfying win that we would have liked to have had. We were in command the whole game. A lot of guys got a chance to play, which was great. Probably the best part of the night was Barks (Matt Barkley) got out there and got to play and did very well; he looked great. It isn’t about Matt Barkley; it’s about the rest of the guys. We had so many situations where we made it hard on ourselves. We couldn’t get any flow at all. Thirteen penalties. We had seven in the first half and came back out and ripped it up again. It’s not stuff that’s indicative of playing good football. We have to get right, and we have to keep working at it.
One of the things we hoped to do was balance out the offense a little bit and feel more comfortable about that. That was definitely there. The defense played really well. It was not a hard game for them. There’s just a lot of room for improvement. We’ll see what happens. Just go back to work and start battling - see if we can clean things up. The great majority of things that happened were totally self-inflicted. That’s the good part of it - we’re in control of it. We need to seize the control and do the right things.
It was great to see some firsts. To see Brice Butler get a touchdown for the first time, that was great stuff. It was a great throw from Matt. Matt had some terrific throws tonight. That was one of them. Obviously Matt can get the ball down the field, and he’s still not healthy yet. Nick Perry, two more sacks again. He’s just chalking them up. Mikey Mo’ (Michael Morgan) had a great game for us tonight; he was all over the field making plays and making things happen. Taylor Mays got back, played well and did the things he needed to do to get back on the map here. He was running and hitting. That was a good thing.
Read the rest by clicking through the link...
I was happy to see Barkley sling the ball down field for some nice plays. TD receptions by Butler and Williams proved to many that had Barkley been healthy last week when we played UW we would have won. Barkley also made some nice throws to McCoy...but for all of the nice throws that ended in completions the receivers dropped some on target passes that could have either put points up on the board or kept drives going. Ellison's drop in the end zone comes to mind. I mean it hit him right in the hands!
What was refreshing was that we saw some of the young receivers in the game. Patterson made a great catch but because he went out of bounds unencumbered the play was called back because that is a penalty. That is a big deal because it means SC is going to have some speedsters that can bring the deep threat to the offense, something we have lacked so far this season.
The defense once again looked stellar. Yes, WSU scored on their final drive with 22 seconds left but that was the second unit that had a lot of youngsters out on the field who were getting some much needed game experience. You could see that SC when went into prevent defense mode...keeping everything in front of them, especially with a mobile QB. Tuel is going to be a pretty good QB for WSU but lets be honest, he wasn't going up against the first-teamers for much of his time in and the defense was providing a decent cushion. The USC defensive front got some pressure on him and sacked him numerous times he also threw one pick that Pinkard brought back up field thwarting a potential scoring drive.
It is hard not to be impressed with Perry and Casey. Those two were getting some serious penetration. Griffen looked solid as well. Fangupo was looking to have a solid game until he went down with a broken ankle. Devon Kennard is going to be a stud too. It is simply amazing that that SC continues to have such impressive talent on the defense. It is clear that Pete Carroll's strength is defense and not offense. I saw very little on defense with the first-teamers that I could be unhappy about. PC still likes to play that soft zone which gives up chunks of yards.
Lets talk about the onside kick. At first I was not happy about it. I did not see the reason for that being up two scores but when SC decided to go into conservative mode it became pretty important. I thought is was bush league but no worse than say Florida running up the score on the Citadel. Because there was no real threat of WSU winning this game it looked like SC simply wanted to try a few things out. It sure was a flawless play.
My biggest disappointment was that SC was stopped twice on 4th and goal. Much to the delight of some CougCenter fans who told Pete Carroll to Suck It...classy. They were nice stops that said more about SC's play calling than it did the WSU defense. I give the Cougs credit...they played a scrappy game but if SC didn't go into conservative mode this would have been a much bigger blow out. SC is really in a no win situation...run it up and we look like assholes. Play down to the Cougs and everyone will say we have issues. We do have some issues i.e. lots of bad penalties but USC hardly sucks.
Anyway...it was far from perfect. There were some nice performances and some head scratchers last night but it is time to focus on Cal...
Here are some links from the local papers...I have perused most except Plaschke's because I know what it coming so why bother?
Pinkard–Trojans still have things to fix - OCRegister.com
USC turns it around against Washington State - OCRegister.com
Trojans win, but it isn't pretty -- latimes.com
USC's Jake Harfman steps into new role as punter - latimes.com
More from Gary Klein
Trojans, Barkley do what is necessary against Cougars - OCRegister.com
Williams–Offense still has room to grow - OCRegister.com
Matt Barkley plays through the pain - OCRegister.com
Trojans' performance is strictly for the (boo) birds -- latimes.com