Home Sweet Home

The Trojans came home on Saturday and quickly reminded the Coliseum faithful of just how good they can be as an adoring sold-out Homecoming crowd was treated to a dominant performance by a USC offense that was clicking at a very high level while the defense, special teams and coaching staff were all in synch for this one.

Any hopes the Washington State Cougars might have had for an upset were squashed early on as the Trojans scored on their opening possession with a Leinart touchdown pass to Dwayne Jarrett. The Cougs tried to respond by moving down the field for a score of their own but after they missed the extra point it was all downhill from there for Bill Doba and crew.

The onslaught began when Winston Justice picked up a loose ball which had been fumbled at the goal line by Reggie Bush for the first TD of Winston's career. He promptly celebrated with a chest bump from fellow offensive lineman Fred Matua which sent Matua to the ground. A caused fumble and recovery by Lawrence Jackson gave the Trojans good field position again and Leinart hit Steve Smith for a touchdown pass. On the next possession Leinart hit Smith for another score and suddenly it was 28-6 before the second quarter had even begun.

When the Trojans reached halftime Matt Leinart had already passed for over 300 yards and five different USC players had scored. By the time the game was over, the numbers on the stat sheet were staggering. The Trojans had 40 first downs (21 on the ground) compared to 13 for the Cougs. USC converted 10 of 14 third down conversions compared to 2 of 13 for Wazzoo. USC gained 745 total yards, the most ever allowed by a Washington State team.

Anybody who has any questions about the USC offense can look at this game as an example of how things can go right. The play calling, which has been maligned at times throughout the year, did an excellent job of spreading the ball around and using all the weapons available. We didn't even see an overwhelming game from Reggie Bush, a man many consider the leading contender for the Heisman. Reggie had a more than respectable 97 rushing yards along with four catches for 40 yards but he didn't have the dynamic impact we've seen so often from him. Instead, we saw Jarrett with 200 yards on 11 grabs, we saw Leinart keep himself in the Heisman race with 364 passing yards and we also saw LenDale White get back on track with 155 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was particularly gratifying to see LenDale running with the ball the way he did in this game. There is something about this offense when the big fella gets involved that just seems to bring us to another level and everything else just falls into place.

The defense also seems to be rounding into form in typical Pete Carroll fashion as we head toward November. As is usual, the defense did a good job of taking away one element of the opposing offense and today it was the passing game of the Cougars. This was the first time in 28 games that Washington State was held without a touchdown pass and it came against a Trojan secondary that many have pinpointed as the weak link for this team. Washington State only threw for 89 yards in this game despite coming into the game as one of the top 20 passing teams in the nation. They faced a Trojan secondary that included new starter Josh Pinkard at corner and all Pinkard did was respond with a team-leading 10 tackles. The Cougs did have Jerome Harrison run for 147 yards, only the third time in the last 42 games that the Trojans have given up over 100 on the ground, but those yards for Harrison didn't have much of an impact on the game.

The football display put on by the Trojans could not have come at a better time when it comes to recruiting as the prime offensive target on the wish list, Virginia wide receiver Percy Harvin, sat in the stands as one of the recruits in town on his official visit. In addition to watching USC run wild on the field Percy and his fellow recruits had to notice such sideline celebrities as Snoop Dogg, George Lucas and Rodney Peete with his actress wife Holly Robinson Peete. It was a picture perfect day at the Coliseum with warm weather and cloudless skies as the recruits got a good snapshot look at the event which USC football has become.

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