The USC defense intercepted embattled Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob four times, ultimately forcing Cal coach Jeff Tedford to bench Ayoob midway through the fourth quarter. “There were some plays to be made in the passing game and we didn’t make them,” Tedford said. “We turned the ball over way too many times.”
Though Ayoob struggled mightily, Marshawn Lynch provided some positive vibes heading into the Big Game by rushing for 87 yards against a tough Trojan defense. Lynch continued to improve on kick returns too, nearly breaking one before settling for an exciting 34-yard scamper.
USC’s latest Heisman hopeful, Reggie Bush, matched Marshawn with 82 spectacular yards on the ground. It is rare to have two electrifying tailbacks competing concurrently in the Pac-10, with both displaying Barry Sanders-like cutbacks that make one ask if either young man even has ACLs in his legs because they swivel, stop and start so smoothly.
Mere mortals cannot usually stop on a dime and accelerate to full speed immediately thereafter, but both Bush and Lynch did so repeatedly in this game. This was entertaining football for the 72,981 fans in sold-out Memorial Stadium, many of whom wore red and gold and cheered the Trojans.
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Asked how he can help Ayoob regain his confidence before Big Game, Tedford said “Confidence and fundamentals go hand-in-hand. Joe started pressing and it really affected his confidence. We need to help him with his fundamentals so he can feel confident again. Specifically, he must set his feet better. Most of the interceptions resulted from bad footwork.”
While Ayoob seems to be slumping, it was good to see Nate Longshore, the freshman who beat him out for the starting job in training camp, back on the Cal sideline in full uniform for the first time since breaking his ankle in the season opener against Sacramento State.
Cal fans can only hope that Joe and Co. find a way to win Big Game - and a
bowl game too - because the “Quarterback Guru’s” hairline
continues to recede with each unsound interception.
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