No one takeaway from this romp but a lot of little takes. So here we go:
*** Sam Darnold is pretty good and getting better. Had some difficulty with the long ball, although lack of separation was as much of a problem on the numerous first-down play-action throws that he coudn't connect on but all he did was make up for those with third-and-long first down scrambles while clutching the ball to his chest securely. Oh, and he threw a career-high five TD passes.
*** So is.JuJu Smith-Schuster when teams have to back off him a bit to defend against Darreus Rogers, Steven Mitchell, Deontay Burnett, not to mention the long ball threat from tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, who is getting deep and catchng the ball like a wide receiver, something he did again Saturday. Hard for defenses to single out JuJu now.
*** The downside to that list is the noncontact knee injury to Mitchell, who last went down like that in summer workouts before his freshman season in a one-on-one play. We can only hope this one turns out better for him than that one did. An MRI later today should tell us. But of all the USC positions, wide receiver is the one where the Trojans can most absorb an injury.
*** One place they apparently won't have to absorb an injury after dodging a bullet is with JuJu, whose face-down posture on the sideline for two minutes with teammates, trainers, docs and coaches circling him, after taking a helmet to the back and having it "lock up" on him, causing him to have trouble breathing as if his wind had been knocked out. That was very hard to decipher from the press box with binoculars on JuJu. But after the game, he was moving well, walking and talking with very little after-effect. Really good news there.
*** Dominic Davis can fly. We didn't forget. Just didn't see him get the chance. That's what happens when a team runs 78 plays for 574 yards. There are opportunities for everybody.
*** Great to see Max Browne get a four-play, 65-yard scoring drive.
*** Starting to wonder how much practice time do teams have to dedicate each week to working on how not to punt or kick off the ball to Adoree' Jackson. We're seeing kicks the likes of which we've never seen before. That 23-yard line-drive rugby style bouncing punt behind the coverage that Mitchell was hurt fielding was just one of them. Arizona pooched a couple, kicked one out of the end zone, kicked them high and short. One thing you know, Adoree' has their attention.
*** Stevie Tu'ikolovatu said there were no issues with the grad student transfer from Utah not starting behind Josh Fatu. "Not at all," said Stevie, who led USC's D-linemen in tackles, after the game. The only reason he headed to the bench with a towel over his head before kickoff was "I wanted to stay as cool as I could . . . we ended up playing the same amount . . . I think they were thinking about how they'd be able to sub against the way they ran their offense."
*** Something about coming off the bench seems to be working for senior safety Chris Hawkins, who led the Trojans in tackles with five. "It's working," he said of his no longer starting role. "And we're playing better."
BY THE NUMBERS
*** 20-32-0-5-235: That's Darnold's lne. Not bad especially the zero interceptions against five TDs in a game where the emphasis was ball security.
*** 4-0: With USC's turnover number at zero, after just one fumble by the Trojans that they fell on, the two interceptions and two fumble recoveries gave USC a 4-0 takeaway edge Saturday.
*** 55,463: Never before have we heard a press box break out into loud laughter at the announcement of the attendance as it did Saturday in Arizona when they called it "a sellout" despite the fact that the number of fans on the three-deck sun side of the stadium was in the hundreds.
*** 3-1, 3-2: Those are the records for the leaders -- Utah and Colorado -- in the Pac-12 South and challenger USC, a half-game behind after all three won this weekend while the bottom half of the conference -- Arizona State, UCLA and Arizona -- all lost to fall farther behind.
*** 7 of 13: USC keeps improving on third-down conversions, up from seven of 14 last week thanks to Darnold's ability to scramble for 54 yards on six attempts.
*** 9-132-3-183: With his nine catches for 132 yards and three TDs, JuJu now has 183 career catches at USC, moving into the No. 8 spot all-time, ahead of Mike Williams (176) and Nelson Agholor (178) and behind No. 7 Steve Smith's 190.
*** 6 straight . . . not: For the first time since last November at Colorado, USC won a game away from the Coliseum after six straight failures. Even against a bad Arizona team, USC will take it as the first step with two more important roadies -- at Washington and UCLA -- coming up.
*** 574: For the third straight week, USC gained more than 500 yards and totaled another season high with Saturday's 574. That equals last season's total of three games above 500 yards in 13 games.
*** 32-8: USC's all-time record against Arizona (including the 2005 win the NCAA vacated). We don't vacate USC wins here.
*** 8-98: By far, the glaring failure on a day when USC cleaned up so much with no sacks and no turnovers, the Trojans committed eight penalties for 98 yards. Really an undisciplined effort. Too much lazy grabbing. Too much carelessness. Got to get better after last week's much-improved two-for-22 effort.
THEY SAID IT
CLAY HELTON: On who gets the credit for Saturday: "I have to give credit to the offensive line. We challenged this group to dominate the game. We asked them to come out with a chip on their shoulder and control this game. They gave up zero sacks and rushed the ball for 320. I thought it was really a dominant performance by them."
ARIZONA COACH RICH RODRIGUEZ: On the difficulties of first-time freshman starter at QB Khalil Tate: " There are times when a 17-year-old freshman looks like a 17-year-old freshman. He's a competitive guy but it was a challenge. They [USC] have some pretty good dudes over there."
SAM DARNOLD: On his mindset to scramble for firsts on third and long: ". . . they're only bringing three rushers so when you drop eight, it's really hard to find windows some time. I knew the linebackers were going to drop deep so I knew if I had a third and long, like third and eight, or third and 10, I knew I could scramble -- look for a guy downfield and if no one was there, just tuck it and run. That was the mindset going into the game so just credit Coach for developing such a great game plan."
USC SAFETY CHRIS HAWKINS: "I don't look at it as who's favored [in upcoming games], that's for other people to do . . . I still think we're better than everybody we play."
USC's leading rusher, senior Justin Davis, did not suit up Saturday, everyone else was back -- nickel back Jonathan Lockett and OTs Zach Banner and Jordan Simmons returned as did Taylor McNamara although Tyler Petite and Daniel Imatorbhebhe both got starts in a two tight end set. . . In addition to Mitchell and JuJu, whose injuries were described above, Leon McQuay had a possible groin pull/hip flexor issue, Damien Mama had a hyperextended elbow and Olajuwon Tucker took a helmet to his knee. Neither were expected to be serious, especially with the bye week coming up before the Cal game in 11 days.
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