Trojans chop Tree to the ground

The USC Trojans used an impressive offensive performance in the first half to jump out to a 27-0 lead and proceeded to cruise to a 44-21 victory in front of 68,341 fans at the Coliseum. Despite missing practice time this week due to nagging injuries we saw an excellent passing display from Matt Leinart as he threw for 260 yards with three touchdowns to Mike Williams and no interceptions. The Trojans also shut down the Cardinal offense and had three field goals from Ryan Kileen.

Williams wows as usual

It has become somewhat routine for Trojan fans to watch Mike Williams go out on the field and put together 100-yard receiving games with relative ease but we all need to stop and realize how fortunate we are to watch this young man in action.  Ever since the Kansas State game of last year he has been on a roll that we haven't seen around here since the incredible play of Keyshawn Johnson in the mid-90's and right now Williams is every bit as dominant as Keyshawn ever was in a Trojan uniform (that's saying a lot considering Key was a 22 year old junior college veteran by the time he starred at USC while Williams is doing all this as a 19 year old true sophomore).   The memories of the dropped balls against Kansas State seem very distant now when he is able to do what he did on Saturday night.  Williams played as if he was a man among boys in the first half with touchdowns that went for 40, 18 and 3 yards to help his team open a huge lead.  It's hard to pick which part of his game is the most impressive; the way he is able to use his body to shield smaller defenders away from the ball?  How about the body control he is able to show while catching balls thrown to any spot?  His ability to gain yardage after the catch could very well his top attribute because there aren't too many receivers around who are able to do as much damage as Mike with the ball in his hands.   On top of all that he is a pressure guy who can make the timely catch when a team is helping to break in a new quarterback.  Think about how much easier the job has been for Matt Leinart to grow in his role with the option of throwing the ball to Williams on every play (it doesn't hurt to have Keary Colbert on the other side either).  On a day when we saw Colbert move up to #4 on the Trojan all-time receiving list it's not hard to imagine what Williams can do to those records if he stays throughout his career.  He's talked openly about how much he's enjoying his time at USC although he was in a hurry to get off the field after his performance against the Cardinal.  It wasn't as if he didn't want to celebrate with his teammates but his family was visiting from Florida and he wanted to spend as much time with them as he could.  Let's hope his Trojan Family is able to enjoy and appreciate this talented player for many years to come.

Notes from the sidelines

Kenechi Udeze had an all-around day as he led the way for the defense with three sacks, two forced fumbles and a blocked field goal….USC outgained Stanford 413-91 in the first half….Will Poole had another impactful game with an interception and a big hit….It was the 700th win in USC football history, only the 10th school in college football to reach that mark. 

Limping Leinart

Matt Leinart continued to be hobbled with his various leg injuries but he had perhaps his best day throwing the football for the Trojans.  His first half passing was sharp and he led the team to 41 points in that span.

Back to Back

With the former Heisman Trophy winner standing on the sidelines we saw LenDale White do something that Marcus Allen never did as LenDale ran for 108 yards to become the first USC freshman running back to rush for over 100 yards in back to back games.  At a school called Tailback U that statement should speak for itself.  

Byrd feared out

Dominique Byrd had become an important part of the offense in recent weeks with his speed and ability to catch the ball on the run but he suffered a knee injury (possible ACL) and could be done for the year.  Gregg Guenther would likely be the starter. 

Key to the Game— A clicking offense

There was little doubt coming in to the game that USC would be able to stop the Cardinal offense but the Stanford defense was among the highest rated run stopping units in the country so there was some cause for concern.  We had a banged up quarterback and up until last week our running game was a little less than desired but on Saturday night it came together and the offensive firepower was a joy to watch.  We actually began to see signs against Arizona State when the Trojans rolled off 27 unanswered points and they began the game against Stanford with similar results.  Why the sudden offensive juggernaut?  Perhaps the two most important factors are the play of Leinart and White.  We knew coming into the season that we were breaking in a new QB and after six games we're starting to see Leinart come into his own within the system. The fact that he's performed so admirably the past two weeks while battling those injuries has only increased the respect factor from his teammates.  The hard running of White has provided an experienced offensive line with the difference they needed to make the run game work.  On one of LenDale's touchdown runs in this game we saw three Trojan offensive linemen put their opponent on his back and that is what you call physical football.  It gives an offense confidence when things work and right now we are seeing the Trojan offense click at a pretty good level. 

Extra Points 

Dallas Sartz seems to make plays when he is in the game (he led the team with 5 solo tackles).  Dallas had a big hit on a receiver in the open field and he also had a nice tackle inside the five as USC tried to prevent the final Stanford score late in the game…..John Drake got the start once again in place of the injured Winston Justice and he performed well.  He's been a critical reserve to this point in the season with his ability to play well at multiple spots…..The much anticipated debut of John David Booty took place in the 4th quarter with USC holding a big lead.  He didn't have a chance to warm-up on the sidelines before going in and he quickly gave a few handoffs before his first pass attempt missed Jason Mitchell.  He was able to throw some warm-up passes before his 2nd series and ended up completing a very nice ball to Brandon Hancock from his own end zone.  John David calmly rolled out and put some zip on the ball for his first official pass completion as a Trojan quarterback…..Manuel Wright had a pair of tackles in the fourth quarter….Lofa Tatupu sat out last week due to an ankle injury but was quickly put into this game after Danny Urquhart left the game with a neck injury….Omar Nazel had a fumble recovery…..Keary Colbert had six catches to pass John Jackson and move into 4th place on the all-time receiver list….Hershel Dennis complemented LenDale and added 80 yards of his own on 10 carries.  It was the best running we've seen from Hershel this year.

Final Thoughts

At USC we're very fond of the phrase "Spirit of Troy".  Many Trojans think this saying represents the unique feeling and energy that is present among members of the Trojan Family and at no time can that spirit be found in more abundance these days than at a USC football game.  It was a mid-October game against a down Stanford team yet over 68,000 fans filled the Coliseum to help celebrate Marcus Allen Day.  There was a bounce in the step of #33 as he jogged onto the field at halftime for the ceremony wearing his familiar jersey.  After so many years in the NFL you would expect his knees to suffer a little but Marcus sprinted out from the tunnel and looked like he was ready to put on a helmet in the 2nd half.  It was a nice tribute to one of the all-time Trojan greats at Marcus got a nice ovation from the fans and he was all smiles as he basked in the admiring crowd.  We've got a proud history at our university, as one former player said "Tradition doesn't graduate", and it's good to see that tradition celebrated every now and then.  Pete Carroll has made it a priority to include the Trojan football alumni in all he does and the fact that he's put together a winning team to help reclaim our spot at the top of the national rankings means those former players will support him.  The sidelines on Saturday were full of names such as Sam Cunningham, Allan Graf, Derek Graf, Zach Wilson, Chris Hale, Delon Washington, Rome Douglas and Jeremy Hogue.  Former offensive lineman Tony Boselli offered these thoughts when asked about the current state of USC football, "the tradition which the program was built on is now returning to the place it ought to be.  What Coach Carroll has done with this staff and the way he's amassed talent, even more than that with the way they play the game, it makes you proud to be a Trojan.  It's definitely an exciting time."  When a recruit like Jeff Byers comes from out of state and sees the Coliseum rocking like it did on Saturday and sees a football legend like Marcus Allen being honored it has to have an impact.  The sight of the crowd going wild, the sounds of the Trojan band playing with the Song Girls cheering from the sidelines has to appeal to the vast majority of players.  A current Trojan player was choosing between USC and Stanford while being recruited and he was asked the question "do you want to be a student-athlete or do you want to be a football hero?" and the player quickly replied "I want to be a football hero".  Now, it doesn't mean you can't be both but there aren't too many places where you can have a chance to be a football hero on the level of a player like Marcus Allen.  We heard that pride in his words as Marcus talked about being associated with a program that had won 700 games and produced five Heisman Trophy winners.  The special feeling is back within the Trojan program and it's great to see because the Spirit of Troy is unlike any other. 


USCFootball.com Top Stories