WeAreSC newsletter

It was an example of good old-fashioned USC style football when the Trojans came to town and piled up a whole bunch of yardage while shutting down the opposing offense on the way to a big victory.

text from the WeAreSC newsletter recap of the Trojan victory over CU:


It was an example of good old-fashioned USC style football when the Trojans came to town and piled up a whole bunch of yardage while shutting down the opposing offense on the way to a big victory.  All that took place on Saturday in Boulder, CO with 53,119 fans in attendance at Folsom Field as the USC Trojans put in a dominating performance for a 40-3 win over the Colorado Buffaloes.   Carson Palmer led an impressive performance by the offense as he completed 22 of 30 passes for 244 yards with one touchdown passing and one rushing. All told the Trojans had 425 offensive yards compared to 61 for Colorado and any time the numbers say that you know it's going to be a good day.



Good start for offense


With the altitude, the large crowd and the pressure of a big ballgame it was so important for the Trojan offense to get off to a good start in this game and that's exactly what happened.  With an environment like that it's possible to let the crowd impact the game but Carson Palmer came out on fire and completed his first five passes as he marched the team right down the field before they were faced with a key 4th down situation that saw a fantastic run and catch play for a touchdown by Malaefou MacKenzie to give USC an early lead.  ABC announcer Dan Fouts commented about how Norm Chow was doing an excellent job of getting so many receivers open and uncovered in space.  Carson has been taking advantage of this by spreading the ball around and in the first quarter alone he completed passes to seven different Trojan players.  Another long touchdown drive ended with a MacKenzie touchdown, this time on a run behind terrific blocks from Chad Pierson and Lenny Vandermade, and suddenly the Trojans had a nice 14-0 1st quarter lead.   The offensive line was a question mark coming into the game due to injuries and inexperience but they were physical and in the 2nd quarter we began to establish our running game.  Sultan McCullough got things started with the best run of his USC career, a 62-yard jaunt down the field that saw him break a tackle and then use his speed and show good balance and footwork near the goal line to stay in bounds.  In the end the Trojans piled up 181 yards on the ground as the offense was able to control the ball effectively, three USC drives went for 80 yards, and help contribute to a dominating Trojan win.


Key To Game – New offensive mindset


There were two sequences in the first half which showed that there is a new offensive mindset at USC as the Trojan offense looks to develop a similar attack mentality to the one that is shared by their defensive teammates.  On the opening drive of the game USC had marched nicely downfield but was stopped and faced with a 4th and 8 from the 32.  It was a little long for a field goal and a punt wouldn't do much good so USC elected to go for it and was the beneficiary of a terrific touchdown catch and run by Malaefou MacKenzie.  It provided a serious emotional lift for the team and the call was the kind of gamble that can pay big dividends if it works and this one seemed to work like a charm.   Another MacKenzie score made it 14-0 but then in the 2nd quarter there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for the Buffaloes when Carson Palmer threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted and CU was in business with good field position.  A costly penalty gave the ball right back to USC, however, and we quickly took their heart out.  A tough eight yard run by Brandon Hancock was followed by a first down run by McCullough and then on the next carry Sultan got outside for his long TD run and the game was essentially over.  A simple pass in the flat to a running back and a run play off tackle but those two touchdown plays exemplified the new spirit on this Trojan team, the one that is always moving forward, always charging ahead, always on the attack.


Notes from the sidelines


Carson Palmer continued his impressive early season play with a consistent performance that showed how control he is of this offense.  Carson was five for five on a drive to open the night and five for five on his final touchdown drive of the game.  He hit 10 of his first 11 passes to seven different receivers…..The sideline hit by Troy Polamalu on Robert Hodge was similar to the hit that CU QB Craig Ochs took which knocked him out for the USC game……Malaefou MacKenzie was simply the heart of the Trojan offense in this game and his energized touchdowns showed a spark that has been missing from this team in recent years…..Mike Patterson got a key sack on a 3rd down play to force a quick CU possession following a failed 4th down attempt by the Trojans


Defense rises up


The Trojan defense rose to the challenge of facing one of the toughest rushing offenses in the country and responded with an effort that should remove any doubt as to whether or not this unit can stop a physical run-oriented team.  To be fair the Buffs were extremely one-dimensional in this game but the swarming USC defense was on top of their game and was able to completely shut them down.  Buff QB Robert Hodge completed his first pass but then missed on his remaining attempts.  When he tried to break the pocket and run he found that open space disappears quickly with Troy Polamalu and a deceptively quick defensive line closing in on you.  The Trojans forced four punts in the first quarter alone although all four kicks went for over 55 yards in the high air of Boulder.  Colorado was never able to establish any kind of sustained ground game against a USC front seven that was led with a dominant effort along the d-line.  All told the Buffaloes totaled 61 yards of offense with only four first downs on the night. 


Speedy Sultan


The 62 yard touchdown run was the longest of his career and it was also the 10th time as a Trojan that he has rushed for over 100 yards in a game.  Sultan has really benefitted from the return of Kennedy Pola to RB coach and his performance shows on the field.


Block, Forrest, Block


Sophomore walk-on Forrest Mozart blocked a punt late in the game which was recovered in the end zone by Mike Ross.


Secondary sets tone


The Trojan secondary set the tone on the first three plays of the game with solid hits from Troy Polamalu, Ronald Nunn and DeShaun Hill to show that the USC defense came to play.


Extra points


The ghost of USC kicking game troubles came back to haunt us but the coaches are confident it can all be worked out in practice……Melvin Simmons and Mike Pollard had solid games and combined on a stretch in the 2nd quarter to shut down the Buffs running attack.  Simmons was an unlikely hero after missing much of the week with an infection…..Jason Leach had a timely interception when the Buffaloes were threatening to score at the end of the 2nd quarter…It was the worst Colorado loss under head coach Gary Barnett…..Darryl Poston had a touchdown run to end the scoring….


Final thoughts


It's a fact of life in college football today that recruits want to come in and play immediately and so far it's hard to imagine a team anywhere in the country with more first year players seeing action.  One of the ways that the Trojans took advantage of the bye week between games was to tinker with the line-up to get a look at which true freshmen might be ready to play and contribute at this point.  Many coaches are hesitant to change once the season starts but Carroll is always looking for ways to improve.  Another goal for the coach by having so many players taking part in the game is to increase the feeling of team togetherness and foster a more competitive environment with everybody involved.  After the game on Saturday it's safe to say that the coaches like what they saw.  Mike Williams led the team in receiving and at the rate he's going the comparisons to Keyshawn are only going to continue.  Hershel Dennis makes the correct cut more often than not, a rare trait for a freshman, and his 15 yard run early in the game showed a brief flash of his potential.  Brandon Hancock provided an important carry when he got eight yards on the first play following the Carson interception that was called back.  Winston Justice got the start and played relatively error-free football while the only reason Fred Matua didn't start the opener is a lingering injury.   Oscar Lua forced a fumble that was recovered inside the ten by LaJuan Ramsey.  Mike Ross recovered a fumble himself in the end zone.  Dallas Sartz has proven that he will stick his nose in the action and Justin Wyatt has shown that he has a bright future as well.  With so  many young players having an impact it's safe to say that a solid foundation is being set for the Trojan football program in the years to come. 



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