Alright so one game is an admittedly very small sample size. But we work with what we got right?
Looking simply at the score on its face (we'll get to individual stats later), progress appears to have been made on that end alone. The teams have played 8 times prior to last Thursday's game and only once before, (in 1978) did UH hold them to 30 points or less (21). USC is, obviously, 8-0 and the last 5 times they've played, USC has put up 49, 49, 63, 61, and 62 points respectively (so 30 already sounds like a win to me!)
This is magnified when you account for both a non-offensive TD by USC (a pick-6), meaning the defense is only accountable for 23, and also a really, REALLY odd decision by Norm to go for it on 4th and 17 with about a minute left in the first half, leading directly to a field goal by USC as time expired. So that's roughly 20 points we can place with the Defense, actually the lowest it has allowed all time.
USC had 15 total offensive possessions in the game. 6 ended in punts, 3 ended in turnovers (one on downs, one on a pick and one safety), 3 ended in field goals, 2 ended in TD's and the last one ended the game. That's 10 total possessions that resulted in no points. Drilling down further, of the 5 scoring plays, only one of the field goals and one of the touchdowns was not the direct result of a turnover. And while the Defense's responsibility is to stop the offense, no matter WHERE they have the ball, super good field position doesn't exactly help. So really, even just on the surface (which is what this portion of the analysis is,) it doesn't take much digging to see that there was improvement (at least as far as past performance is concerned.)
Now, how much of this was bad offense versus great defense? I guess that's something that only time will tell. Me, of course, being the massive homer that I am, assumes its the latter. But hopefully the numbers will eventually speak for themselves. And, when you break things down individually, aside from a few untimely drops by Marqise Lee, there's a lot to like about what happened (and enough consistency to indicate it wasn't simply just a fluke good game.) Stay tuned for the individual breakdowns!