Instant Impressions: USC - Washington State

The Trojans did what they needed to do on Saturday, going into Pullman and getting a lopsided win. There were plenty of positives to build on and a handful of negatives to coach up and improve on. Look inside for the good, and the bad from USC's 50-16 victory over Washington State.

The Good

Stanley Havili: Do I need to say more? Anytime the talented fullback touches the ball good things happen for USC. After a rough first series for the defense, Havili got the ball rolling with a 60-yard touchdown run through the Cougar defense. Havili, who didn't get many touches in the first three games of the season because of a lack of depth, was unleashed on Saturday, and Havili responded with 107 receiving yards, 80 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.

Robey's Interceptions: Freshman cornerback Nickell Robey responded this week with a pick six on the second drive of the game, and he later added another interception. Robey is going to get picked on by opposing offenses because of his inexperience, but he has a lot of talent and will continue to develop throughout the year. USC fans need to be patient with the freshman from Frostproof, Florida.

Jurrell Casey: There have been times this season that it seemed like Jurrell Casey or T.J. McDonald have made every play. Casey had another strong performance on Saturday, stuffing the run in the middle early and often.

Robert Woods: The steady freshman continues to show the poise of a veteran in the passing game and on special teams. Woods had an 11-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter and finished the day with 2 catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.

Playing time for Mustain: The blowout win allowed Lane Kiffin to play a lot of backups including quarterback Mitch Mustain. The senior has received some valuable experience this year and will be ready if called into action down the road. He also had a nice 22-yard touchdown strike to fullback Stanley Havili.

Special Teams: There is no secret to USC's sudden success on special teams. Lane Kiffin went out and hired the best special teams in the country and made it a priority in practice. Four games into the season and the Trojans have already returned a punt for a touchdown, returned a kickoff for a score, blocked a field goal, blocked a punt and blocked a PAT.

Wes Horton: The big defense end made his presence felt with a blocked punt and quarterback sack before getting injured. No word yet on the severity of the injury. We will keep you updated.

Big plays: One of the most encouraging things about the offense has been the big plays this season. On Saturday, Stanley Havili started things off with a 59-yard touchdown run and finished things off with a 22-yard TD reception. Allen Bradford had a 30-yard gain on the ground and Brandon Carswell, Ronald Johnson, Rhett Ellison and Robert Woods all had receptions of 20-plus yards.

Spreading the ball: Nearly all of the skill players on the roster touched the ball in USC's 50-16 victory. Bradford, Havili, Tyler, Baxter and Gable all had at least four carries and nine different players caught passes for the Men of Troy.

The Bad

Washington State's first drive: Washington State drove down the field thanks to missed tackles and bad coverage from USC's defense. The Cougars capped off the drive with a trick play in which wide receiver Jeffrey Solomon connected with Jared Karstetter for a 29-yard touchdown.

Turnovers: The Cougars were able to keep the game close for a half because of USC's three turnovers. Matt Barkley had a pair of bad interceptions, one in the end zone, and Allen Bradford fumbled the ball. Luckily, the turnovers came against an overmatched Washington State team, but the offense needs to clean that up with a tough stretch of Pac-10 teams coming up.

Passing Defense: While it was a lopsided win for USC, the pass defense still gives up way too many plays. The young secondary is improving but they still have allowed too many big gains on third-and-long situations. With Jake Locker and the Washington Huskies coming to the Coliseum next week, the Trojans will be tested.

Another missed field goal: While special teams has been much improved in 2010, Joe Houston continued to struggle on Saturday by missing a 38-yard field goal attempt in the first half. Houston, who has been consistent in practice, has made just 1-of-4 field goal attempts this season. As USC heads into the meat of the schedule they will need Houston to step up and start making kicks.

The Future

The Trojans did what they needed to do on Saturday, going into Pullman and getting a lopsided win. There were plenty of positives to build on and a handful of negatives to coach up and improve on.

With the win, Stanley Havili emerged as the dangerous offensive weapon that he has been in the past, and a player that opposing defensive coordinators have to account for in the passing game as well as the running game.

Lane Kiffin used nearly his entire roster in the win and plenty of skill players showed that they can contribute when called upon.

Matt Barkley had made some questionable decisions and the defense showed some vulnerability in pass defense, but all and all it was a good warm-up game to begin Pac-10 play.

As we have seen in the first few weeks of the 2010 season, the Pac-10 is likely the best conference in the country, so the Trojans will need to continue to improve and limit mental mistakes for the tough stretch ahead that begins with a visit from Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies next week.


Stanley Havili led the way for USC with 187 total yards of offense.


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