View from the Press Box: USC

It's another sobering stat sheet after another blowout loss for Stanford. What was new in Saturday's 42-0 loss to USC? The Cardinal gave up just 108 yards rushing at a clip of 3.4 yards per carry, but the Trojans trumped in the air with 247 passing yards on 14 completions. Stanford made progress in their passing game, believe it or not. Read on for how it all unfolded...

Pregame - Stanford's four captains are out at midfield.  No surprise to see senior safety/cornerback Brandon Harrison and fifth-year senior safety Trevor Hooper.  We told you previously that freshman wide receiver Austin Yancy would also be a game captain.  Representing the special teams, however, is somebody that will surprise and perhaps confuse you: redshirt sophomore kicker Aaron Zagory.  His selection as a captain is a head-scratcher given his uneven kicking this year.  Perhaps his successful on-side kick at Arizona State was Stanford's most commendable special teams play?

Pregame - Did the volume get cranked down this week on the P.A.?  I can't hear who won the coin flip, but Stanford will receive.  Here is the opportunity, and the pressure, for the Stanford offense to do something positive right out of the gate to build confidence and momentum.

4:10pm - This looks like a different kickoff return formation.  Freshman nose tackle Sione Fua is a single deep man at the bottom of the wedge in the center of the field, behind senior tight end Patrick Danahy and redshirt freshman fullback Josh Catron, who are behind redshirt freshman tight end Erik Lorig and redshirt freshman defensive end Tom McAndrew.  Redshirt sophomore cornerback Wopamo Osaisai and redshirt sophomore running back Ray Jones are the return men, same as we saw in Tempe...  Kickoff goes away from Osaisai to Jones, who takes it eight yards from the 12 out to the 20.

4:11 - We saw this a lot this week in practice - Stanford is using a single back and three wide receivers.  Fifth-year senior Marcus McCutcheon joins freshmen Austin Yancy and Richard Sherman outside.  I expect quite a bit of three-wide today, based on what I saw practiced.  Some of that may be tactical, but it also may have something to do with an injury to redshirt junior fullback Emeka Nnoli at Arizona State.  Nnoli did not practice during the bye week, and then progressed to a yellow jersey early this week to no injury jersey.  Still, he cannot be 100%...  Stanford runs redshirt sophomore running back Anthony Kimble on first down for one yard.

4:13 - Stanford gains less than a yard on the second down run.  It's now Sherman, McCutcheon and redshirt junior Evan Moore...  Stanford is flagged five yards for a false start.  The official calls out "#67" which is redshirt sophomore left tackle Allen Smith, but I thought it happened and the official pointed first to the right side.  Regardless, that sets up 3rd & 14...  Ostrander has some time in the pocket, steps in nicely with a little pressure and throws to his left toward Sherman past the marker.  The throw is a few yards to the sideline, however, and incomplete.

4:15 - USC has great field position to start on their 49...  Stanford opens on defense in their "magic" defense with six defensive backs.  Redshirt junior cornerback Nick Sanchez and redshirt freshman safety Bo McNally are the extra DBs on the field.  John David Booty hits an open Patrick Turner on the left side, but he bobbles and drops the pass.  Nice break for the Cardinal.  Does USC still have some bugs to work out of this team?  I'd expect them to have much ironed out after last week's upset loss.

4:16 - Stanford burns its first timeout, getting its personnel straightened for second down.  That bodes poorly for the "improved lines of communication" that were much discussed by defensive players this week...  Out of the timeout, Stanford employs a nickel defense, rather than the magic package.  That is noteworthy, and again something I saw in practice this week.  Sanchez is the nickel back.  They stop the run after a gain of three yards.

4:19 - Stanford makes a stop on third down.  Three-and-out is a pleasant surprise for the Cardinal, for sure!  Nice job coming around behind the line of scrimmage to stop Chauncey Washington on a third-down run by redshirt sophomore defensive end Pannel Egboh.  I remember when Walt Harris said this week that USC ran the ball so well that they often could and would run on 3rd & 8.  That's sick.  Indeed it happened here (on 3rd & 7).

4:19 - Freshman running back Toby Gerhart rotates in for this series.  He runs for three yards on first down.  Stanford did have Nnoli on the field on first down for a two-back set, but he substitutes to the sideline to give way for McCutcheon and three-wide again.

4:20 - Gerhart gives those three yards right back.  Establishing the run looks like a tall task today...  3rd & 10 and Ostrander again has time.  Stanford is pass protecting well, though USC is not blitzing ferociously yet.  But Moore is covered at the marker, and again Ostrander throws wide incomplete.

4:23 - Redshirt junior punter Jay Ottovegio is doing a fare job of helping the field position battle so far.  Stanford has gone three-and-out twice on offense, with the first series losing four yards and the second series netting zero.  Yet he punts USC further backward than their last series, 45 yards with no return.  USC will start on their 40.  Snoozer of a game so far.

4:25 - We have the first movement of the chains today, with Booty hitting Dwayne Jarrett for 13 yards.  No pressure up the middle, with senior linebacker Michael Okwo having to run a long way around to make a line at the quarterback, but it was much too late.  Booty can have a field day if the Cardinal cannot get some pressure.

4:26 - Now the Trojans run for a first down.  Washington 10 yards up the middle...  On first down, it's Washington for 11 yards.  This is easy.

4:27 - Despite great ease running the ball, USC uses play-action (and bad p/a at that by Booty) to throw for the endzone.  Booty misses an open Jarrett high over his head.

4:28 - Wow.  On 3rd & 7, conferring Stanford seniors in the secondary are talking to each other and then turn to the back judge to call a timeout.  We're at 7:37 in the first quarter, and the Cardinal have burned two of their three timeouts.

4:30 - During this timeout, I have to observe the first real negative of the more intimate Stanford Stadium.  You can hear the infernal USC band much too loud and clear!  They are a detriment to my mental health.

4:31 - Stanford goes with its nickel package, and USC runs Emmanuel Moody on a sweep to the left.  He has to pause as Okwo flies in front of him, and Moody comes up just a yard short after Egboh makes the stop.

4:31 - USC goes for it on 4th & 1, handing off to Washington.  He wants to run inside, but redshirt freshman nose tackle Ekom Udofia (a recruit USC coveted) comes through to cut off that lane.  Washington bounces away from Udofia's outstretched arms and finds a bigger and better hole on the left side.  He has open daylight and strolls into the endzone from 15 yards out.  Big play for USC, though that was just inches away from a big play by Udofia and Stanford.  It's a maddeningly slim margin between a turnover on downs and a touchdown in this sport.  7-0, USC is on the board.

4:33 - Osaisai takes this kickoff but has nowhere to run, and is eventually wrestled down at the 22.

4:34 - Kimble is back in the backfield.  Stanford employs double tights.  Moore and Sherman are wide.  That's a quick switch from Yancy (a game captain) to Moore, but one a lot of Stanford fans support.  Moore had a difficult game two weeks ago in Tempe.  How much improvement will he show tonight?

4:35 - Kimble carries on first down and picks up four yards.  That is Stanford's biggest gain in two-plus series of offense thus far...  Kimble runs on second down and gets nothing.

4:36 - Three wide of Moore, Sherman and McCutcheon.  Again we have a false start, and this one really stings.  3rd & 11.  Now redshirt freshman tight end James Dray is split out for a four-wide look.  Ostrander backpedals, and it's a screen to Kimble.  Lots of room to run on the left side and good blocking, especially by Sherman.  The crowd roars with approval.  Stanford picks up its big first down and a huge 18 yards.  Nice playcall and excellent execution.

4:37 - Kimble runs on first down and gets nine yards, with the last few coming on a physical stiff-arm of Taylor Mays.

4:38 - Kimble rushes for three yards.  Another first down.  Kimble gets a breather after those runs, and now it's Gerhart deep in the backfield in a single-back formation.  He only gets three yards on first down because fifth-year senior left guard Josiah Vinson stumbles in the open field and is too late to reach his block.  If he makes that block, Gerhart gobbles up big, big yardage getting to the third level of the defense and maybe more.  That is precisely an example of the execution failures that kill this team.

4:40 - We now have 3rd & 5 on the USC 44.  Moore, Sherman and McCutcheon again.  Kimble in the backfield.  It's a wide receiver screen thrown to Sherman, but he is swallowed by the man McCutcheon attempted to block.  That lost a yard, and Stanford will punt.  Ottovegio has to place this deep...  He hits it a little short, and it is fair caught at the 15.  That will go down as an "inside the 20" punt to Ottovegio's credit, but this team in this game in that position on the field needed it dropped inside the 10.

4:41 - Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Clinton Snyder gets into the backfield and into Booty's face, but the QB rolls to his left and has Jarrett come back to him.  Booty hits him right on the sideline - one foot in-bounds.  Very nice play by the Trojans.  Jarrett is such a talent.

4:42 - USC throws and connects deep for the first time today, with Booty hitting Jarrett open deep down the left side.  There goes a nice piece of field position for the defense, wiped away in two plays.  USC has the ball down at the Stanford 37.  End of the quarter.

4:44 - I wondered this week if USC might not pass heavily against Stanford.  The Cardinal have the dead last rushing defense in the nation, and their pass defense has yet to yield 240 yards in a game this year.  It strikes me as a very Pete Carroll thing to do to try and pass the ball against this Stanford defense.  The Trojans clearly have the tools, and Carroll has that arrogance.  Booty is 3-of-6 for 61 yards so far.  USC has net rushing of 53 yards on eight carries.  But the passing attack looks like it may just be starting to warm up based on those last couple of connections.

4:46 - It's 3rd & 8.  This is a critical place on the field and time in the game to get a stop.  USC runs up the middle, and the Stanford defense maintains its gaps, stopping after four yards.

4:47 - USC goes on 4th & 4.  No respect.  No respect at all for the defense...  And they're right to do so.  Booty rolls to his right and makes an easy short pass to Steve Smith, which picks up 10 yards at the sideline after beating Osaisai.

4:48 - So much for my recent contention that Stanford has a greatly improved pass defense.  Booty sits back and has ungodly time and room to survey the field.  He tosses the ball to Jarrett in the endzone, who has Osaisai beaten.  The Cardinal corner cannot make any play on the ball whatsoever.  Too easy.  That has to be terribly discouraging if you are on the Stanford defense.  Yikes.  14-0, USC.

4:52 - Bad just turned to much worse.  Osaisai fumbles on the ensuing kickoff return, losing the ball in the air as he is tackled and clearly before he hit the ground.  USC picks it up and takes it to the Stanford seven-yard line.  Well, there was part of the concern the Cardinal coaches expressed earlier in the season when asked about Osaisai returning kickoffs.  Ball security is paramount.  How many kickoff return fumbles is that for Stanford this season?  Three or four?  That's also a brutal string of three straight plays for Osaisai (combined defense and special teams).

4:53 - First play, and Booty rolls to his right with Smith dragging wide open in the endzone left-to-right.  Pitch and catch.  Touchdown.  21-0 just like that.  Stanford is already out of the game.  The spanking is underway.  21-0, USC.

4:55 - Thus ends Osaisai's return duties, at least on this day.  Redshirt junior running back Jason Evans replaces him for this return.  Evans also has a fumble on his kickoff return résumé this fall...  The ball goes to Jones, and he takes it out to the 30.  Not bad.

4:56 - Double tight formation plus Moore and Sherman.  Lorig is offset like a fullback...  Ostrander feels some pressure and throws short and inside of Lorig running down the left sideline.  Nice to see Lorig being included in the passing game.  He is slowly evolving from a run-only blocker into a more complete tight end.  Slowly, I said.

4:56 - That's a nice little play, with Gerhart releasing out of the backfield and catching a short pass that he brings ahead for a gain of eight yards.  I like it.

4:57 - There is another turnover, this time Ostrander threw right into the chest of a standstill Terrell Thomas in front of Moore on the left side.  Brutal.  I don't know how to explain that.  Either Ostrander didn't see him (how?), or he and Moore were not on the same page.

4:59 - Stanford sends Hooper on a blitz, and he sacks Booty for a loss of eight yards.  Nice to see Stanford fight back, which can't be easy in this early hole tonight.

5:00 - 3rd & 11 and USC runs the ball.  Again, they have the confidence (arrogance?) to run in that down-and-distance.  Stanford is there and stuffs it after just three yards.

5:00 - For the third time already today, USC will go for it on fourth down.  On the 35-yardline and against this defense, I fully understand...  Booty steps up and fires to Jarrett, who has Sanchez right on his back.  It's a break-up and incompletion.  I don't know if Sanchez was there early or not, but there is no flag.  Big play.  Aggressive play by Sanchez.

5:01 - To start this series, Stanford has fifth-year senior tackle Jeff Edwards at right tackle where redshirt freshman Chris Marinelli started...  Stanford runs Kimble, and he gets devoured in the backfield for a loss of five.  It's hard to lose five yards on a play running toward the line of scrimmage, folks.

5:03 - USC runs way off-side as Ostrander makes an audible and takes their first penalty of the game.  There are the five yards back.

5:04 - Ostrander hits Moore on a slant in the middle for 14 yards.  That connection needs to warm up for Stanford to do anything respectable on the scoreboard tonight.

5:04 - Ostrander is forced out of the pocket and picks up three yards after a lot of running.  He takes a little shot but gets up okay.  Ostrander is not 100% and needs to be careful about his gambles.

5:05 - After a safety valve dump-off to Kimble for five yards, it's 3rd & 2.  Stanford hands off to Kimble, and he has two Trojans in the backfield right away.  Shifty footwork incredibly eludes them, and Kimble dives ahead for three yards and the first down.  Very nice job.

5:06 - Ostrander again runs away from a would-be tackler in the backfield, this time with a hop to elude diving arms at his feet.  He rolls out and has some room but sees Moore at the goalline and heaves the ball, which is batted down by a lunging Trojan defender.  The run would have been more productive, but that vision and mentality is probably what Ostrander needs to spark this offense.

5:07 - On 3rd & 7, Ostrander is pressured and throws the ball away to the sideline.  There is a pause while we wait to see if Stanford might go for it.  Stanford is on the USC 38...  But Harris elects to punt...  It's a picture perfect roller that lands on the 11, and is downed by redshirt freshman reserve cornerback Kris Evans inside the two-yard line.  Makes the punting decision look smarter, though I'm sure many home fans in the stands wanted Stanford to go for it on fourth down.

5:12 - Big balls by Booty and USC, throwing deep on first down, pinned against their own goalline.  Booty heaves it down the left sideline for Jarrett in single coverage against Sanchez, and the ball looks like it could be intercepted given the coverage.  But Jarrett is simply too physical and muscles for the ball.  Wow.  That's a 36-yard pass and moves the Trojans out to the 38.  They'll probably get another touchdown before the half.  Sanchez needs to take that play to heart in the off-season and become much stronger.

5:13 - A better example of coverage against the deep ball, this one thrown down the right sideline to Turner with coverage by Osaisai.  Osaisai isn't able to get to the ball, but a leaping Harrison goes over the top to knock the ball away.  Super play by the senior safety.

5:15 - It's 3rd & 4, and USC dumps the ball to Moody in the backfield to let him run in open space.  Okwo is there but misses terribly.  Moody gets seven yards and the first down.  Okwo is a little invisible tonight, by the way, from my vantage.  His production has been markedly down the past couple games...

5:16 - On 2nd & 10, redshirt freshman outside linebacker Will Powers runs onto the field late.  Stanford doesn't suffer, though, with freshman inside linebacker Brian Bulcke making a solo stuff on a run for one yard.  Nice to see Bulcke back, after a number of weeks missing with mono.

5:17 - There's another successful dump to a back.  This time it's 33 yards for Moody and nearly a touchdown.

5:18 - From the three-yardline, a wide-open Fred Davis catches a touchdown.  Somebody blew that assignment, and it might have been Osaisai based on Harrison running over to him after the play and getting in his grill.  It's a humbling half for the Stanford pass defense, for sure.

5:20 - With less than a minute in the half, Stanford comes out and has redshirt junior Preston Clover at center, rather than redshirt sophomore and starter Alex Fletcher.  Fletcher had a medical situation strike that almost kept him out of today's game.  I'm not surprised to see him rotated out of the game.  He probably should not be able to play.

5:21 - Ostrander finds McCutcheon wide open in the middle of the field for a big catch of 22 yards that moves Stanford down to the USC 41.  There are nine seconds left in the half.  Stanford burns its last timeout.  You sure wish you had one more.  Stanford will be hard pressed to do anything in the middle of the field, unless it goes more than 10 yards and stops the clock on a first down.  Even then, it could be dicey trying to spike the ball in time...  That was, I believe, McCutcheon's first catch of the season.  He tore his MCL in the opener and has had a long road back.  Big play here that could get Stanford on the board.  Good for him!

5:24 - False start on Clover.  What a complete killer.  Stanford now has to throw for the endzone...  Ostrander does just that and is intercepted.  A fitting end to a fine half of Stanford Football.

5:46 - Stanford comes out of the half with Zagory to take the kick-off, which means only one thing...  It's indeed an on-side kick.  Textbook high bounce, and a diving Hooper snares the ball out of the air.  Hooper is fired up, arms pumping and legs kicking in celebration.  Stanford is coming out of the locker room fighting, and that fires up the players and fans alike.  That is also the second successful on-side kick in the last two games.  Kudos to Zagory on a difficult skill.

5:46 - It all turns bad so quickly, with an Ostrander pass picked off by Dallas Sartz and run back for a touchdown.  That's indescribably painful...  But there is a flag, and it's defensive holding (on Sartz?).  No interception, and Stanford picks up an automatic first down.  The ball is now at the USC 43.  Stanford has to strike and put something on the board.

5:51 - Just like that, Stanford has to punt, however.  4th & 6 just inside the USC 40.  Okwo is conversing with Ottovegio, and now the players change formation like they will run a play.  But nothing happens, and it's a delay of game penalty.  Stanford wanted to draw somebody off-sides.  They'll take the delay penalty to give Ottovegio more room.  Another great placement and roll, again downed on the USC two-yardline.  Nice work by Ottovegio.  But can the defense do something with the opportunity this time?

5:54 - USC is content to run this time from their two, and they pick up just a yard up the middle.

5:55 - Redshirt junior outside linebacker Udeme Udofia pushes his blocker back into Booty's face and gets enough pressure to rush the throw, which is incomplete.  3rd & 9 on their three-yardline.  Can't ask for much better if you're on defense.

5:56 - Stanford (gasp) has coverage at every outlet, so Booty has to roll out and eventually run.  He picks up six, so USC will punt for just the second time today...  It's fair caught by redshirt freshman Chris Hobbs at the USC 48.  Stanford again has good field position.

5:59 - We're back after a TV break, and Stanford lines up three wide to the left side of Sherman, McCutcheon and Yancy.  It's a bubble screen to Sherman (ruled a backward pass and thus a rushing play) for no gain.  Moore comes onto the field.

6:00 - Stanford uses two wide and split backs of Gerhart and Nnoli.  Terrell Thomas comes on a corner blitz, and Nnoli doesn't put a finger on him.  Ouch.  Ostrander takes a 13-yard sack.  Stanford will punt again, twice already this quarter in two possessions squandering superb field position.  This game is now officially hopeless.  USC will have to lend a big helping hand (e.g. turnover) for Stanford to score tonight.

6:02 - USC is having great success on fakes, play-action and bootlegs, and they use that here on first down.  It's a 12-yard pass to Allen Bradford, with most of the defense biting the other way on a Booty fake.

6:05 - He's having a nightmare evening, but I'll say this for Osaisai: he has speed different from anybody else in the Stanford defensive back corps, and it shows on a play like this when he hugs Steve Smith step for step on a go pattern.  Smith can run, and Osaisai laid a blanket on him.  He also held up the USC senior enough to have Booty throw long.  Osaisai has the God-given tools, but he has still has a ladder to climb.

6:07 - After a USC pass that is ruled a lateral goes out of bounds, we have 3rd & 16.  USC burns a timeout, and comes out throwing.  It's intended for the big tight end Davis, who lets the ball slip through his arms.  They're crushing the Cardinal, but this most definitely is not the USC of the last few years.

6:10 - On 2nd & 9 for Stanford, Ostrander hits Kimble as his safety valve, and again we see nifty elusive footwork by the redshirt sophomore to dodge very athletic defenders.  He should have lost yardage but instead picks up eight.

6:11 - Marinelli is hurt on the play and has to be helped off the field.  Edwards comes into the game.  He has practiced the last couple weeks at both tackle positions, prepared to play left or right as the team's #3 tackle.

6:12 - Kimble again has to improvise, this time cutting back right on 3rd & 1 when everything was clogged to the left.  He gets three yards and a first down.  I like his effort tonight.

6:13 - There is the second completion of the day to Moore, and he is knocked out of bounds after 10 yards.  Of note is the fact that he was hit after the catch by USC freshman safety Taylor Mays.  The hit completely stopped Moore and knocked him backward/sideways.  Moore is Stanford's huge 6'7" fourth-year man of a wide receiver, but a USC freshman just decleated him.  It's not a level playing field between these two teams.

6:14 - On 2nd & 6 at their own 45, it's a designed roll-out by Ostrander to his left, hitting Nnoli out of the backfield for 11 yards.  I saw that practiced a good deal during bye week practices, and it worked just like it is supposed to here.

6:15 - Ostrander hits Sherman open deep on the right side for 26 yards, and the frosh dives to make the catch coming back.  Stanford is at the USC 18 and in the redzone for the first time tonight.

6:16 - Ostrander throws away on first down with some pressure.  Nothing positive, but it was absolutely the right decision...  Second down is Kimble stumbling and picking up less than a yard...  3rd & 10 is a delayed draw to Kimble, who picks up two yards.  Kimble has improvised and made things happen for you, so I almost understand the call.  But 10 yards is asking a lot.

6:18 - Rock bottom.  The field goal attempt is blocked by Sedrick Ellis, with tremendous penetration up the middle.  Thomas picks up the ball and runs it back 71 yards for a touchdown.  35-0, USC.  Spank you very much.

6:22 - Continuing the theme of substitutions tonight on the offensive line, we have redshirt junior Mikal Brewer at left guard in place of Vinson.

6:23 - USC blitzes on second down and hits Gerhart for a loss of one.

6:23 - Ostrander is doing everything he can.  While feeling a defender pulling him down from behind, the Cardinal quarterback somehow shovels a pass that just reaches Nnoli and picks up four yards.  Not a first down, but it's a sincerely commendable effort by Ostrander.  The stats aren't world-beating, but I see a much-improved command from him at the position today, compared to his last two outings.  That is a positive to take away...  End of the third quarter, and Stanford will have to punt.

6:26 - USC has dipped into their reserves officially, playing redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez at quarterback...  He is sacked by Snyder on his first play for a loss of eight yards.

6:28 - The Stanford defense gets a three-and-out.  USC won't go for it on 4th & 15.

6:33 - After an uneventful three-and-out by the Stanford offense, there's another play behind the line of scrimmage by a swarming and attacking defense.  Powers punishes Moody for a loss of three.  They're still playing hard.  Give them credit for that.

6:36 - I like a lot of Stanford's young athletes on defense, but a good number of them were just embarrassed by Moody, running right and cutting a long way back to his left.  He beats five or six defenders in the open field and grabs eight yards and the first down.

6:38 - Sanchez gets it going in the air, hitting Travon Patterson against coverage at the three-yardline.  42-0 will look awfully bad, and it should just be a few ticks away.

6:40 - It's 3rd & Goal after a run stuff by Hooper and then Sanchez scrambling for one yard after nothing was open to throw...  Washington has the ball and wants to cut back, but redshirt freshman Fred Campbell plays in the right spot and wraps up for a loss of two yards.  Today is Campbell's first collegiate start.  Nice play.

6:41 - USC wants to go for it on fourth down in a blowout late in the fourth quarter.  So much for an old friend (Pete Carroll) not trying to run it up on Walt Harris.  Stanford calls its first timeout of the half with 5:39 to go in the game.

6:43 - It's a naked bootleg, and Sanchez dives just to the goalline under/ahead of Sanchez and Snyder for a touchdown.  42-0, USC...  Darren Sabedra of the San Jose Mercury News called this exact score in the press box earlier this evening, by the way.  Quit your day job and get to Vegas, Darren!

6:47 - With five and a half minutes to go, do you keep Ostrander in the game or put in redshirt freshman Tavita Pritchard?  I can see both sides of the argument.  The former needs all the work he can get, with experiences to help him improve and grow in this offense.  But if he were to be injured, it would be a new level of disaster for the offense.  It's a gamble, but I would continue playing Ostrander.  This team and offense needs to get better.

6:48 - The answer is Ostrander.  He hands off to redshirt junior running back Jason Evans, who is into the game for the first time on offense.  Evans picks up five yards.  That might be the second best first-down run by Stanford tonight.

6:49 - Ostrander has heat but holds tight and throws to Evans in the flat, who runs and makes a spinning leap to pick up eight yards and the first down.  Evans is making some positive things happen with a rare offensive opportunity.  Good for him.  If something were to happen to Kimble or Gerhart, Evans is showing the coaches that he can capably produce.

6:50 - Ostrander throws deep for Sherman down the right side in single coverage, but Mozique McCurtis (best name in the Pac-10) is there for a nice breakup.  Good throw and opportunity.  That is why it's worth leaving Ostrander in the game.  They're working on the offense.

6:50 - Ostrander runs for six yards on a second-down scramble.  He's surprisingly mobile for a guy with one good knee.  Ostrander has made a lot of plays happen, and avoided a number of other negative plays, with his feet tonight.  I like his performance and improvement.

6:51 - Sherman beats his man streaking down the field and connects with Ostrander for a strike of 33 yards.  That moves the ball to the USC 26.  Can the shutout be avoided?

6:52 - There is the biggest problem area I see for Ostrander.  When he takes sacks, he has a knack for taking very big ones, freezing or running backward.  A seven-yard sack there pulls the Cardinal out of a good position on the field.

6:53 - 4th & 17 and Ostrander rolls out, looking, looking, looking... and has to throw it away before he runs out of bounds.  That's too bad.  You would really have liked to see him put something on the board after positive plays like that drive.

6:53 - I'm heading down for post-game locker room interviews.  Should be interesting, as always.

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