Of course, the Trojans were just getting started and by the time the game reached halftime the Trojans had racked up 44 points (the most in one half this year), 395 yards and 20 first downs. It was an offensive clinic. If you want to stay in the game with the Trojans right now you had better score early because if not this is a team that will simply take away any hope you have by putting up scores in a hurry. It has really been noticeable the last three weeks as the offense has quickly put away three teams they should beat without really allowing them any hopes of an upset.
We're also continuing to see the defense come along nicely. Jackson had a big impact with a sack and a TFL to go along with his fumble recovery while his fellow defensive end Frostee Rucker led the team in tackles. We saw a linebacker by committee approach after Oscar Lua went down with a knee injury on the opening kickoff (the Trojans were also missing regular starter Keith Rivers who is out with a hamstring) and their play was just another example of a defensive position group stepping up this year when depleted by the loss of key players. Collin Ashton did well and Thomas Williams forced a fumble and had an interception while another bright spot was the play of the three freshmen who saw playing time. Brian Cushing showed a real nose for the ball with a pass deflection and he also had a couple nice hits on Trent Edwards. Kaluka Maiava was flying around the field and Rey Maualuga was a surprise participant after early indications were that he would sit out the game after a recent off-campus incident. It's unclear if Carroll had planned to sit Rey for just the first half of the game or if Rey was forced into action due to the loss of Lua.
Another injury, this time to tight end Dominique Byrd, gave us an extended look at the new Fred Davis and boy did he look good. Fred had four catches on the night but none were more memorable than his first collegiate touchdown when he just wasn't going to be denied the end zone. The sight of Fred breaking tackles and celebrating after the score was great to see after all he has been through in his brief USC career.
On a night when other highly ranked teams such as Virginia Tech and UCLA were struggling to losses this game against the Cardinal was another reminder of how much is right in the world of USC football these days. We had Sam Cunningham being honored at halftime, a more graceful Trojan you will not find. There was John Robinson, back in the fold again with that familiar JR grin, sharing stories on the sidelines with Bill Walsh before the game. The Coliseum was once again sold out, the team played great (we even saw great special teams coverage and fewer penalties) and a group of elite recruits watched it all from the stands with smiles on their faces. All in all, the game had a very familiar feeling and it was the feeling we seem to get lately whenever the calendar turns to November.