WeAreSC newsletter from Auburn game

Text from the WeAreSC newsletter

As far as openers go the victory by the USC Trojans over the Auburn Tigers on Monday at the Coliseum in front of 63,269 was notable for the second half dominance by a Trojan team that has had their share of problems putting teams away in recent years.  On this night with a national television audience and a sideline full of top recruits USC showed that the new uniforms weren't the only "retro" look going on as they controlled the clock late in the game with precision passing and key running when needed. Michael Patterson led the way on defense while it was a group of seniors (Carson Palmer, Malaefou MacKenzie, Sultan McCullough and Kareem Kelly) who provided the difference on offense. 

 

Adjustments pay off

 

This was by no means a dominant win, nobody in the Trojan Family is claiming that we played a perfect game so why is it that so many are so satisfied today?  One of the reasons is coaching, the Trojans won the game in part because the coaches helped us get this win and when was the last time we could say that?  On offense we went with our primary weapon in Carson Palmer but in the first half he was missing on some deep passes so in the second half Norm Chow focused more on shorter routes and passes out of the backfield to the running backs.  We didn't have an overwhelming rushing performance but it was enough throughout the game that when we needed to run in the fourth quarter we were able to take advantage of the fact that Auburn was worn down and we controlled the football.  This was not Little Sisters of the Poor on the Tiger defensive front seven either, this was an extremely impressive group of athletes and that is what makes it so satisfying.  On defense it looked like a long afternoon was in store for the Trojans after our first look at Cadillac Williams.  The Auburn runner showed moves and quickness on his opening touchdown run and the first half saw him running wild.  USC did have a key stop on 4th and 1 inside our own ten yard line in the 2nd quarter but other than that our best defense against Williams seemed to be the cramps that hampered him throughout the remainder of the game.  At halftime the decision was made by the Trojan coaches to return to the base defense without so many stunts and it worked with great success.  Auburn was held to only 35 yards of total offense in the 2nd half as USC was able to put together some long drives that kept the defense fresh for when they needed to be on the field.  How many times in recent years were those roles reversed and the Trojans saw a game slip away because our defense just got worn down?  Too many but that wasn't the case on this night.  There can be a new sense of confidence for USC fans with the knowledge that we will no longer come up short when it comes to halftime coaching adjustments.  In fact we have seen that Carroll, Chow and company are starting to show a knack for making adjustments that will give our team the best chance for success in the second half and that is a very satisfying feeling indeed.

 

By the numbers

 

* The Trojans had a second half edge in time of possession by a margin of 21:35 to 8:25.  

* The victory snaps a 6 game losing streak for the Trojans to SEC teams

* Malaefou had six catches for 117 yards, both career highs, and it was the first time in almost 40 years that a USC RB had over 100 yards receiving in a game

  

Super Seniors

 

The offensive performance in this game was keyed by the performances of four seniors, all of whom contributed in the fourth quarter to the victory.  Carson Palmer did a terrific job of hitting his 2nd and 3rd option throws and he also looked good throwing on the run in addition to taking charge of the huddle down the stretch.  He had one bad throw on the first interception but he also moved into the #1 spot on the all-time USC attempts list and is #2 for completions.  Malaefou MacKenzie showed exactly why Norm Chow said prior to last season that Mal was the one person we couldn't afford to lose.  He brings so many weapons to the table with his pass receiving out of the backfield in addition to running and blocking.  Good luck covering him with a linebacker, he has too many moves, and he also put a crunching block on a blitzing safety to give Carson time on a key pass.  He also used his running ability to have four catches of 15 yards or more.  Sultan McCullough didn't practice much this fall due to hamstring injuries but with Justin Fargas out it was Sultan who did enough to sustain a Trojan running threat.  Sultan moves into the #12 spot on the vaunted USC career rushing list and he received some advice while coming out for the second half from one of the men ahead of him as Marcus Allen had some words of encouragement.  There are times when Sultan will stretch the play out too long before making his cut although he did a very good job on his touchdown run in the first half behind solid blocks from Norm Katnik and Derek Graf.  The first Trojan touchdown of the season came on a reception by Kareem Kelly who also showed some fight to get into the end zone.  We've seen more effort at times from Kareem in fall camp but there will also be times when he needs to know the situation as in the 4th quarter when he fought for extra yardage with an ill-advised spin move at a critical time and lost t


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