USC’s win against Notre Dame on Saturday was probably the best performance from the offense and defense in a single game this year against a notable opponent, meaning both units played well together for the entirety of the contest.
At times this season, it seemed like when the defense was playing well, the offense was playing poorly and vice versa. The Trojans rarely put together a full game where both units played exceptionally for 60 minutes. The inconsistency cost the Trojans some games they should have won, but there was no doubt they were coming out with the victory against the Fighting Irish once fans watched early parts of the game. Antwaun Woods noticed the inconsistency the past couple of games and was glad the team could pull it all together.
“The performance was maybe a little unbalanced, going up and down different ways, but this game it was like defense came to play, offense came to play,” Woods said. “We were successful… It is what it is and hopefully it’ll get better in the future with depth, but that’s not an excuse.”
To go along with the overall theme of inconsistent play, within the defense, it seemed like the Trojans would shut down the running game on one occasion, but would then let the opponent’s passing game hurt them. On a different occasion, the Trojans would shut down the passing game and let the running game hurt them. You get the point. Woods was pleased with the defense’s performance on Saturday, especially considering it was a rivalry game.
“Yeah, I mean we just wanted to come out here and have everybody do their job,” Woods said. “Not let the rivalry get over everybody’s head and that was just the focus, for everybody to do their job and execution.”
One of the other storylines of this USC team has been its lack of depth. You won’t hear any excuses from players or coaches pertaining to the challenge low numbers presents a team, but there is no doubt increased numbers will help the Trojans in coming years.
There hasn’t been much of a rotation on the defensive line this year because of the low numbers so Woods has spent nearly entire games out on the field. However, this hasn’t affected how he feels while playing.
“I feel the same,” Woods said. “I don’t think it has affected us. It’s been the same all year and I think we’ve been fine. It just comes down to execution. You know, the plays that hurt us this year came down to who was higher. It was just execution or somebody not doing their job.”
It seems as if Woods and counterpart Leonard Williams are seniors at times because of their play and maturity out on the field, but they still have one more year left. Williams could be gone to the NFL, but Woods will likely be around next year when the Trojans start their season against Arkansas State. With the roster turnover lying ahead, Woods made sure to compete for all the players who won’t be back next year.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Woods said. “We talked about it and one thing we emphasized this week was finishing strong for the seniors, playing for the seniors. Last time in the Coliseum. Last time playing Notre Dame, a big rivalry. We wanted to make sure we got the ‘W’ for them.”