Lots of ways to look at last night's Cal game. Here are some of them:
*** The Pac-12 got this completely wrong, of course, making Cal play back-to-back weeknight games with the second one on the road in a short week during mid-term exams and Larry Scott had no answer for it in the press box last night. Actualy his answer that it's happened before was wrong. It hasn't. Although even if it had, two wrongs do not make a right. So just because USC got screwed earlier this season with back-to-back road games at Stanford and Utah with the second one on a short, travel week does not exempt the league here. Stand up like a man, Larry, admit your mistake and promise you're going to fix it.
*** And for the league's AD's, you folks better start stepping up as well. When those skeds come down, you just say no. No, we're not going to Utah on a short week after traveling the week before to Stanford would have been the proper USC answer. No, we're not doing that should have been the Cal AD's answer back months ago so we don't have to hear this constant whining even if Cal coach Sonny Dykes happens to be right, which of course he is.
*** Maybe that's the one good thing that came out of Ed Cunningham's mindless ESPN prattling during the game. Maybe the Pac-12 won't want to keep hearing about it -- even from Ed.
*** USC's talent and playmaking ability is as exhilirating as its lack of discipline and football IQ is deflating. It's a battle between the two every time out and this is where coaching comes in. The arrow on the enabling the talent keeps going up but the arrow on disabling the discipline issues keeps going down. Got to get more done in practice.
*** Just a thought here. Sure it's hindsight but how valuable would have been adding an hour to one of those short bye week practices that would have been completely devoted to falling on a rolling, bouncing, fumbled football and actually recovering it. Just Sayin' here.
*** The one good thing about playing undermanned defenses the way USC has in October is it allowed the Trojans O-line to block with some semblance of an organized scheme and more importantly, allowed running backs like Ronald Jones and Aca'Cedric Ware to read the running lanes. Against Alabama and Stanford, there were none. Last night there were. Makes all the difference in the world, RoJo said. The one thing that's gotten senior Justin Davis ahead of the game is that he could go with the flow and not let it get him off-stride. Now the question is: Can USC do this, establish readable running lanes for the backs against the likes of Washington, and despite how badly they're playing now, UCLA and Notre Dame, who have better athletes than USC's October opponents and could show up motivated against the Trojans?
*** OK, we know Clay took the heat for that careless first-and-10 interception Sam threw on that fourth-quarter pass that never should have been thrown and said he wanted USC to "stay aggressive" and "that's on me" but how would running the ball when you're averaging 8.3 yards a carry not be aggressive, not to mention beating Cal down and running the clock? That was not "aggressive," it was kind of stupid. Not only must rookie QB Sam learn from his throw that never should have been made on first down, so must rookie head coach Clay as well.
BY THE NUMBERS
*** 13: Two ways to look at this number, one good, one bad. This was USC's 13th straight win over the Bears dating back to that triple-overtime loss at Cal in 2003, USC's first national championship season under Pete Carroll. And now for the bad. USC committed 13 penalties for 125 yards. Awful. Unbelievably undisciplined.
*** 629: For the fourth straight game, USC produced more than 500 yards of offense in Sam Darnold's fourth straight starting win and fifth straight start. Coincidence? Probably not.
*** 61,725: Didn't look like quite as many as the announced attendance but they were a loud bunch in a game with lots of reasons to scream -- good and bad. And even after 80 percent of the crowd had fled the late shower, the few left were still loudly booing another unsteady Pac-12 officiating performance. Good job Trojan fans.
*** 3:27: Surprisingly short game involving Cal with all those throws and time stoppage of the game. Blessedly short for a game starting at 7:30 PT and ending at 2:03 a.m. on the East Coast where how many do you think were still watching.
*** 7 straight: USC's seventh straight home win gives this Trojan team the longest home win streak since the Trojans won 12 in a row here from 2007 through 2009.
*** 1: Marvel Tell's marvelously athletic first-quarter interception was his career first.
*** 18-45: With his 223 yards rushing, Ronald Jones became the 18th Trojan to rush for more than 200 yards in a game, something that has happened 45 times in USC history. His previous high was 177 last year against Arizona. For comparison here, Marcus Allen had 11 games of more than 200 yards rushing..
*** 53-0: Cal quarterback Davis Webb dropped back to throw it 53 times Thursday and he was sacked exactly zero times.
*** 69-30-5: USC's all-time record against its longest rival counting the one win the NCAA vacated. We said it last week and we mean it: We don't vacate USC wins here.
*** 2-97: For senior Darreus Rogers, those were his career highs for TD passes and receiving yards in a game on his six catches in the most eye-popping game of his USC career. Well done Darreus.
*** 10 in 2: With 10 TD passes in back-to-back games, Darnold ties Matt Barkley who did it twice, the last time to open the 2012 season against Hawaii' with four and Syracuse with six. Matt also did it against Oregon (four) and UCLA (six) to to close the 2011 season.
THEY SAID IT
CLAY HELTON: On RoJo's breakout game: "He's a special dude. You know as a coach that there's a ticking time bomb ready to go off. With the talent he has and the competitiveness he has, you knew he was getting ready to explode. We saw it in practice and there was a fire in him tonight. I'm proud of him and Ced [Ware] and proud of the ball security they had all night."
CAL COACH SONNY DYKES: "I thought we did some good things offensively to give us a chance to get back in the game. As bad as we started we cut it to 28-17 and had a chance to make it one score but didn't do anything with it. We got to play better and coach better but that's a beat-up team. I hope the Pac-12 thinks better of not doing this to someone else."
FORMER TROJAN AT CAL DEVANTE WILSON: On making a couple of big plays and trying to defend USC's run game: "It was nice to make those couple of plays but it would have been nicer to come out with a win but definitely it felt good . . . it [USC's run game] was tough . . . we had some missed tackles and stuff we have to clean up but that's a credit to them."
ADOREE' JACKSON: On breaking Curtis Conway's career kickoff record of 1,723 yards with his 56 against Cal: "I didn't even know that but I'm up for that . . . it was a shocker. I'm just going out and having fun but if they tell me its there, I'll try to break it."
Uchenna Nwosu said after the game that he thought his injury which resulted from a Cal player falling on his leg turned out to be no big deal and he could have gone back into the game . . . more serious might be the hip flexor issue for Jonathan Lockett who said he would get a MRI today . . . otherwise, a pretty clean bill of health.
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