Sometimes brevity can be your best friend. In regards to Saturday's annual demolition of Cal, it certainly serves its purpose, for there isn't a whole lot to say. USC dominated an inferior opponent. A good opponent, nonetheless, but a team, on paper, that the Trojans should be capable of beating.
Kevin Riley is a widely inconsistent quarterback, and subsequently, threw two interceptions. Jeff Tedford is becoming increasingly senile and conservative, as evidenced by his mind-boggling decisions to punt on fourth and inches. And the vaunted Cal defense, well, looked much better last week at home against UCLA.
But regardless of Cal's struggles, USC played well. They didn't throttle a top ten team on the road, but in facing a Cal bunch that's certainly been competitive as of late, the Trojans looked like the 2008 version - at least for one afternoon.
And the stats are certainly easy on the eyes:
602 yards of total offense
Matt Barkley - 352 yards passing, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Marc Tyler - 79 yards rushing on 7 carries, 1 touchdown
Robert Woods - 7 catches, 116 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
Ronald Johnson - 7 catches, 45 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
The defense - 245 yards allowed
It's no small secret, but that's production at its finest. The big question now, however, is whether Saturday was simply an aberration or an improvement, a sign of things. For much of the week, there was reported tension between Lane Kiffin and the defensive staff (Monte and Orgeron).
But for the time being, holding Cal to just two scores helps to quell some of the animosity in the Heritage Hall film rooms, as the staff prepares for a home date against what could be No. 1 Oregon in two weeks. A rout over Cal doesn't automatically catapult the Trojans into the top-25, but at the very least, it keeps the season alive. A win over Oregon, and some favorable Pac-10 results and a share of the conference crown is not out of the question.
Granted, such a scenario remains somewhat far-fetched, but at the very least, it's now a conversation worth having. Oregon's offense is going to be increasingly difficult to slow down, much less stop, but today's defensive performance gives some assurance that they won't be a mere lock to drop 70 points in the Coliseum.
It appears as if the staff is making some adjustments, particularly on defense, and if the last two weeks are any indication, the future, at least for 2010, may not be that bleak.