Bumped - P
Matt Barkley needed to win this game with his arm. He didn't. Two interceptions, 53 percent of passes completed and just one touchdown passing do not cut it when you are playing an offense of Oregon's caliber. Beyond the stats, Barkley missed several long passes down the field to open receivers and couldn't keep the offense on the field in the second half when it counted.
Running backs: B -
Marc Tyler looked solid, especially in the wildcat, running for 69 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. Stanley Havili also contributed with 38 yards. The running backs as a group, however, were largely invisible.
Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods were again at the head of the passing game. The former had a touchdown and led the team with 69 yards receiving. The latter led the team with seven receptions. David Ausberry also had a solid game. His numbers don't say much, but he got separation and put himself in position to make plays all night. Eight receivers caught passes, unfortunately, like the running backs, no one really stood out in a game that needed big performances on offense.
Offensive Line: C +
With the size advantage this squad enjoyed, I expected them to do much more. They gave up two sacks and allowed the Oregon defensive line to rattle Barkley. In the running game they couldn't open holes consistently enough to successfully pound the ball on the ground.
Consistency. At times the offense looked unstoppable, but they did not maintain their composure long enough to fully take control of the game. There is no excuse for this offense, with these players, to only score 32 points in a game destined to be an offensive shootout.. Why did the Trojans lose? Zero points in the final 26 minutes and 22 seconds of the game.
TJ McDonald continues to improve, but still struggles with missed assignments and slow reaction. Jawanza Starling just looks lost. They allowed Oregon's Darron Thomas to throw three touchdowns of over 30 yards.
Shareece Wright was supposed to be one of the best cornerbacks in the Pac 10. Supposed to be. Wright's coverage was consistently soft and he got beat deep for a touchdown. And it seems as though the corners are incapable of shedding blocks and providing help in run defense. The group as a whole also is responsible for those aforementioned long touchdown passes, which were all the result of blown coverage.
The blown coverage mentioned in the secondary also applies to this squad. Openings in the middle of the field were repeatedly exploited by the Ducks. Chris Galippo, Devon Kennard and Michael Morgan are often out of position, miss tackles and can't shed blocks. Shane Horton continues to outplay the starters.
Defensive Line: B
The line got penetration and while they only had one sack, they did a decent job hurrying Thomas. Jurrell Casey came away with a key interception early in the third. Still, they allowed LaMichael James to wrack up more than 200 yards.
Despite all their shortcomings, despite giving up almost total 600 yards and 311 yards rushing, despite allowing 53 points, the defense did enough to win the game. That statement might sound ridiculous, but it is true. This squad stopped Oregon on seven of their first 11 possessions. They held the number one offense in the country just long enough to give the offense a chance. Going into this game everyone knew that USC needed just a few stops to make the game winnable. They got those stops. They did their job.
Robert Woods averaged 25 yards per kick return. Ronald Johnson averaged 23.5 on punt returns. Both play makers ensured that the Trojans enjoyed good field position all night.