What can one say about this USC Trojan offense? I don't think it is an overstatement to say that right now, this team is firing on all cylinders and this is as potent an offense as I have ever seen in my entire life and I have followed college football for a long long time. I was amazed by the awesome offensive display to finish last season, but this team is at least as potent and probably more dangerous. This team has it all, and the Trojans are missing their two top tight ends. Just a few short weeks ago, USC lost budding superstar Dominique Byrd and many wondered how the Trojans would compensate. Well, that turned out to be no obstacle for this juggernaut and Coach Chow. All of a sudden, guys like Reggie Bush and Brandon Hancock are stepping it up and the opposing defenses are having fits trying to adjust to all the weapons. Complicating the problems for opposing defenses is the fact that USC also has a trio of young tailbacks that are combining for somewhere over 200 rushing yards per game over the last several games and that is just too much to handle. The Trojans hit them with speed and power with Dennis, with pure power and balance with Lendale White and then comes the powerful jet, also know as Reggie Bush. He has speed, quickness and acceleration. We had all heard about the accolades attributed to him. We had read about his awesome displays on the practice field if we were not lucky enough to have seen him practice in person. We got quite a glimpse of his superb play last week and today he simply sealed the deal. He ran from scrimmage, he returned kicks and he showed that he is one impossible receiver out of the backfield and when lined up wide to match up with. And folks, this is a true freshman.
Earlier in the year there were questions about Matt Leinart. I can't imagine too many people who are not yet impressed with this guy. When Coach Chow arrived at USC, much was expected. He worked what seemed like miracles at BYU forever and in his short stint at North Carolina State, his freshman quarterback looked terrific. He was seemingly hampered in his first year at USC by lack of superior talent at the essential positions. However, somewhere about midseason last year, his system took off at USC and with the exception of a couple of games with a brand new qb this year, there has been no looking back. Once again, USC gained well over 500 yards and they scored 43 points. The exceptional part of that is it was accomplished in one of the nation's most hostile venues and with any luck at all, USC would have had at least 14 more points. Matt Leinart was 19 for 29 (65.5%) with no interceptions and 351 yards. If my memory serves me correctly, that is two consecutive games where Matt threw for 351 yards. How weird is that? For those who wondered if USC could survive without Carson Palmer, the answer is an unequivocal and capital YES. Some will say it is the system. Some will say it is the quarterback and his talent. Personally, I believe it is both. I would also have to wonder out loud who would and could have ever guessed that Matt would be playing this efficiently in only his 8th game of his starting career? To my recollection, Matt threw only one really bad pass all game (although he missed two potential scores by missing BMW) and by the luck of the draw, the opposing linebacker dropped the ball which could have potentially been returned all the way to the house. This offense has just been unstoppable, plain and simple. The only really good stops all game long were of the self inflicted type and that is not an exaggeration.
How about USC's defense? Did they play well? Can they play better? I believe that they did play very well especially considering that they were without All Pac-10 linebacker Matt Grootegoed. One position that SC could hardly have afforded another injury was at cornerback. Unfortunately, Ronald Nunn sustained a potentially serious injury and if he really did fracture his orbit, I can 't imagine that he will be able to play again before a bowl game. Fortunately for SC, Justin Wyatt came in and really picked up the slack. Many fans had wondered if the loss of Arbet would lead to Wyatt coming back to the defensive team and now we know that it is a good thing he was there. One should also not forget that starting defensive lineman Omar Nazel was held out of almost the entire game, due to a fractured thumb and his backup, Frostee Rucker definitely picked up the slack. Of course Reggie Williams played a lights out first half, but in the second half, Will Poole really brought it to him and to my recollection, Reggie was more of a decoy than anything else in the second half. And for those who wondered why Washington got 23 points, we should not forget that for most of the second half they were held in check by this tough SC defense which once again stepped up and never broke. I think we should all remember that in the Pac-10, many of the teams can play lights out offensive football and other teams have excellent players. Although SC gives up some real passing yards, few teams run the ball down the Trojans's throats and the Dline and blitzers (thought there were few of them today) get just enough pressure on the opposing quarterbacks to force them into a few mistakes and they help insure the ultimate goal--the victory.
In this game, there were many key plays. In my opinion, (and with the help of my buddy with whom I watched the game) one of the biggest plays in this game was the tremendous rush by BKU, big Keneche Udeze, which caused Cody Pickett to fumble. The Huskies ended up with 3rd and 50 as opposed to being in scoring position. That was just another example of one guy stepping up big for the D and helping the Trojans keep control of this game. At that particular point in the game, a score by Washington might have changed the momentum. I also think that the first touchdown of the second half was huge. We got Reggie Bush on the slant out of the backfield and once he got the ball, it was all over. Few , if any defenders in college football are ever going to catch Reggie once he gets in space. He is as fast with the ball in his hands as any of the speedsters that I can remember and that includes the likes of Sultan McCullough, Kareem Kelly, Edesel Garrison, OJ Simpson and many many others. This guy Reggie Bush is not just track fast, he is football super fast and what a pleasure he is to watch. It is probably not polite to gloat, but I can still see that look of utter dispair on the face of Ty Willingham as he watched Bush fly by the slower Domers and he could only moan about what he thought could and should have been. Way to go Pete Carroll and the entire USC staff in bringing this student athlete to USC.
Well, with all the positives, were there any negatives? You bet there were. The kicking game was horrible. No other way to say it. Two missed field goals and a blocked extra point are more often than not going to cost a team in a big way. Fortunately, that was not the case today and I am sure SC fans are thankful for that. I guess it will be a huge coaches call as to when and if to put the game on the leg of the kicker with the game on the line, but I hope it does not often come to that. More often than not with Coach Chow, that is not an issue, but I am sure that subject will cross some guys minds this week as SC prepares for Washington State. It might sound harsh, and I have no idea what the solution is, but the place kicking at USC, especially in crunch time has more often than not been an adventure. The punting game, what little of it which we have seen as of late has usually been solid and the kickoff coverage has been good more often than not. Once again we saw the SC staff work wonders at halftime. The adjustments were right on the money and the Defense was tougher in the second half, or so it seemed, than in the first. In the critical third quarter, USC dominated the game, and the announcers were quick to credit this staff. In the post game show the announcers were showering Coach Carroll with praise and why not? Whatever he and the coaches do at halftime, it almost always produces the desired results.
Considering this is an internet article, I think it is appropriate to comment on some internet type issues. There has been some interesting back and forth banter about Coach Chow's talents and abilities. Well, all I can say is that I am a results driven guy. To my way of thinking the results speak for themselves. This offense is awesome, the quarterback is producing at a rate above and beyond what many, if not most had anticipated and opposing defensive coordinators are pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to control this juggernaut. Today, with an obviously slowed Mike Williams--thanks to an another ankle injury, Reggie Bush emerged as one of the better offensive weapons I can remember. Brandon Hancock showed that he has fine hands and terrific speed and Keary Colbert was Keary Colbert. As I wrote last week, I will not challenge Chow again. He is a proven star and with the kind of talent he has to work with at USC, the sky is the limit. As USC prepares for Washington State, I can't help but think that the Cougars will have a few problems tyring to figure out how to stop USC at USC. I know that coaches don't mention much about revenge, but if anyone thinks that this game is not important to Coach Chow and Coach Carroll as well as to the entire staff and team, I have a bridge to sell you and it is in Brooklyn. I hope we get healthy and we have our best shot to beat the Cougars. And here is one little tidbit. Since being at USC, I don't recall anyone other than Kansas State beating USC and Coach Carroll in back to back games. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.