USC starts slow then cruises to victory

By most any standards a 38-0 victory would leave the winning team in a celebratory mood but the USC Trojans aren't operating under just any normal standard these days.

By most any standards a 38-0 victory would leave the winning team in a celebratory mood but the USC Trojans aren't operating under just any normal standard these days. Sure, the Trojans were happy with the win, especially with the way the defense dominated the hapless Washington Huskies offense, but the early game struggles by the offense were enough to keep Trojan supporters from going overboard in praise. It says something about how high the bar has been set by Pete Carroll and his team as this game had a lot to be happy with in terms of individual performances including some big plays from guys who don't usually find their way to the stat sheet. One of the harsh realities, however, is the fact that this was a down Washington team that had been decimated by injuries and a solid win was something that was expected for the Trojans.

Offense

It was a surprisingly slow start for the offense as Matt Leinart struggled to get on track in the first half. Washington did some good things defensively and they put a lot of pressure on Matt but the majority of problems were caused by the Trojans themselves and once they got fixed in the second half everything was fine. It was encouraging to see the solid play from the second unit offense, including quarterback Matt Cassel.

QB

Leinart had the type of day that would be good for most quarterbacks but it was noticeable in the first half that he was missing many of the plays that Matt normally makes. One typical Leinart-type play was the touchdown throw to Jason Mitchell where he made a series of reads before throwing to the open receiver for the score. He also had nice touch on a touchdown pass to Reggie Bush…..Cassel did a good job of moving the team when he got in the game and he showed nice athleticism on a scramble. Cassel is very similar to John Fox in throwing motion and demeanor on the field.

RB

LenDale White may be hampered by a lingering ankle injury but you wouldn't know it by the way he ran hard with the ball on Saturday. LenDale popped through for a couple scores and he was a battering ram all night…..The most dazzling play of the day came courtesy of Desmond Reed with his run down the sideline and diving leap into the end zone. It's no fluke to see Reed make that kind of play, he does it all the time on the practice field, and he's also proving to be a big play guy on special teams with a couple nice plays in this game…..Jody Adewale had a catch late in the game and he bowled over the Huskie defender trying to make the tackle along the sidelines.

WR

Jason Mitchell scored his first touchdown as a Trojan when he hauled in a Leinart pass in the back of the end zone while doing a nice job of keeping his feet in bounds. After the game Mitchell was asked about his footwork on the play and he said "there was no way I wasn't scoring on that play"….John Walker did a nice job of turning upfield for extra yardage after catching a slant pass….Dwayne Jarrett had five catches but wasn't able to get into the end zone for a score

TE

Dominique Byrd had an acrobatic catch along the SC sideline and he was able to get downfield as well on a couple plays….Fred Davis had a very nice catch of a ball thrown low to the ground

OL

The sight of John Drake leaving the field on a cart was enough to put some concerning thoughts into the heads of Trojan fans who remember our running game without him last year but it looks like John will be fine for next week (he'll be evaluated further in practice this week)…..The good news was the sight of USC running the ball for a big gain on the first play after Drake went out and they ran right behind his replacement, true freshman Jeff Byers….The future of the OL was on display late in the game with Byers, Drew Radovich, Matt Spanos and Kyle Williams all seeing extended action….Kudos to Sam Baker for a good tackle on the Washington defender after a Leinart interception

Defense

What can you say about a defense which shuts out a team that came into the game holding the longest streak in the country without being shut out? It had been over 20 years since the Washington Huskies put a goose egg on the board but that's exactly what happened against the Trojans on Saturday. It was a beautiful display of defensive football for the Cardinal and Gold although they probably face stiffer competition each week in practice from the 2nd string Trojan offense.

DL

Frostee Rucker was all over the place in this game with a fantastic performance. He did a great job right away of reading a quarterback draw on the first series to let Washington know that their primary hope, establishing the running of Isaiah Stanback, was just not going to happen. Frostee later forced a bad pitch which led to a fumble and a USC field goal. He also recovered a fumble on the opening series of the second half. His best performance might have come at the end of the game on the sidelines with his impression of a leaping Desmond Reed, somehow Frostee didn't quite get as much air as Desmond did but his teammates loved the impression…..

LB

There was a lot to like from the linebacker group in this game….Lofa Tatupu was a ballhawk. He recovered a pair of fumbles, although one was incorrectly ruled an incomplete pass, and he was as scrappy as ever in his pursuit of the football…..Matt Grootegoed made a big play when the Trojans really needed it on the first play of the second half with his caused fumbled. Groots did a great job of sticking his helmet on the ball after a delayed handoff and the ball popped out….Keith Rivers had a good return after his first interception as a Trojan…..Thomas Williams continues to show that he deserves to be on the field, he may not get as much playing time as he should because of the talented players ahead of him but there's no doubt he can make an impact when he's out there….

DB

We're seeing a future star emerge with the playmaking abilities of Eric Wright. It's becoming common to see him with blanket coverage knocking balls away and this week he caused two turnovers with that style of play although one was called off due to a bad call by the referee...

Special teams

Ryan Killeen made one field goal, he had a long miss early which didn't hurt the Trojans, and he continued to put kickoffs into or out of the end zone…Reggie Bush had another terrific punt return which was helped by a crushing block by Desmond Reed on a much bigger Washington player….Reed also came down the field for an impressive tackle after scoring his touchdown in the fourth quarter

In attendance

Among the notables at the game were Mike Williams, Anthony Davis, Shane Foley, Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Clay Matthews, Craig Fertig, Marlin McKeever and Sultan McCullough…..There were also two representatives from the Orange Bowl in Ford Gibson and Barry Kates with Gibson commenting on the terrific atmosphere at the Coliseum


USCFootball.com Top Stories