Three Stars of the Game: USC

When the USC Trojans came to Minnesota on Saturday, many people did not think the Gophers stood a chance. Minnesota hung around for three quarters until the powerful Trojan running game won the game in the fourth. The three stars from this were USC receiver Robert Woods, USC running back Allen Bradford and both Minnesota safeties, Kyle Theret and James Manuel.

The first star for the game was receiver Robert Woods. Statistically Woods had a solid game. He caught a game-high four balls for 33 yards and returned two kicks for 122 yards while leading the Trojans with 155 all-purpose yards. The reason that Woods is the first star is because of the impact he made in the third quarter.

Coming out after half, the Gophers were trailing 7-13. After a Da'Jon McKnight touchdown the crowd was in a frenzy and the momentum was the Gophers' favor. The feeling was short-lived when Woods took the next kickoff back for a 93-yard touchdown. This play was the turning point in the game.

At the post game press conference, Coach Brewster explained, "The critical play of the game was we scored a touchdown and go up. We've got this place really on fire and we gave up a kickoff return."

The second star of the game was USC running back, Allen Bradford. Bradford started the game slow, compiling just 32 yards in the first half. By the end of the game, Bradford had racked up 131 yards on the ground, including a run for a 56-yard touchdown.

In the second half, Bradford got rolling to the outside where he could turn the corner and burn past Gopher defenders. When the passing game was not functioning, the Trojans turned to Bradford to carry the team through the second half. Without Bradford's rushing attack, the Trojan offense might have become stagnant as the game progressed.

The last star of the game was the combination of safeties James Manuel and Kyle Theret. After a two-game suspension, Theret returned to the field where he made an instant impact. The senior had seven tackles and an interception and was a leader in the defense.

Coach Brewster explained the importance of having Theret back on the field. "It was nice to have Kyle back. I thought Kyle was really a settling influence on the back end." Theret made tackles and prevented big plays that had previously plagued the Gophers' defense.

James Manuel also played well on Saturday, improving his play greatly from previous weeks. Manuel looked to be tackling better and appeared to be in better position to make plays throughout the game. Some place the blame on Manuel for Ronald Johnson's 53-yard touchdown reception.

Manuel was lined up against one of the best receivers in the Pac-10 and obviously got burned but so would most strong safeties in the Big Ten. Manuel's growing pains were overshadowed by the fact that he had seven tackles, an interception and a forced fumble, which he recovered. Manuel's play should continue to improve as he gains more experience.

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