Click below for the text from the WeAreSC newsletter recap of the USC vs Washington State game:
It was a wide open game on the Palouse as the Trojans went to overtime against the Washington State Cougars before losing by a score of 30-27.USC quarterback Carson Palmer completed 32 of 50 passes on the day for 381 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.Freshman wide receiver Mike Williams caught a 55-yard TD pass late in the 4th quarter to give USC the lead but a missed extra point gave WSU an opening and QB Jason Gesser brought them down for the tying field goal.In the overtime period the Trojans lost yardage on their possession and ended up missing a 52-yard FG attempt before the Cougars hit a field goal for the win.
In Greek lore the character Sissyphus is constantly trying to push the rock to the top of the mountain but every time he gets close the rock tumbles back down the hill and he is forced to start over again.That is what it feels like to be a Trojan football fan these days.Every time we think our team is closing to reaching that peak, just when we are convinced that the team is now ready to pull themselves back to the top of the college football mountaintop, we are brought back down to earth with a game that reminds us of how far we have to go.The shutout victory over UCLA last year (it never hurts to think of that game at a time like this) certainly had many Trojans is a state of euphoria but the Utah debacle showed we were not there yet.We shut down the Buffaloes in Colorado and then quickly learned that we weren't battle tested enough for a road experience like Manhattan, KS.The stunning loss to the Cougars comes on the heels of one of the most dominating defensive performances we have seen in recent years with the manhandling of Oregon State, a thumping so one-sided that Trojan fans spent the week trying to find a new nickname for the impressive defensive line.Is there a Trojan out there who really thought we would only sack Jason Gesser one time in the game?We knew the reality of the injury situation at the cornerback spot yet somehow our luck had held and we hadn't seen a quarterback exploit that inexperience until Gesser came along and used his playmaking skills to make the big plays when he had to.Another reality is that the Cougars were picked to win the conference title at the start of the season so they do have some talent but this is certainly another one of those games where it felt as though the Trojans had control of their destiny.One of these days, and we all hope it's coming soon, all of these pieces are going to come together and when that happens it will be a wonderful sight to see.
KTG – Final Trojan possessions
With left in the game the Trojans got the ball back, the score was tied 27-27 and USC had all three timeouts remaining.We had a veteran quarterback on the field, one who had thrown for over 380 yards on the day and just moments earlier had just completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to our dazzling new big-play receiver.The stage was set for an exciting Trojan comeback.Unfortunately, things went about as sour as they can for the offense during the remainder of the game and it began on the first play of that drive.Carson Palmer went back with a quick step drop but his receiver was covered, Carson then tried to look for another option but by this time the pass rush was on him for the sack.The coaches took a look at the situation and decided to let the clock run out and take their chances in overtime.Yes, the game plan had relied on Carson all day to carry the load and now the ball was being taken out of his hands but the coaches felt comfortable in the ability of the offense to execute in overtime and the feeling was that a lot could go wrong when trying to quickly make something happen deep in your own territory at the end of the game.Of course, the key element to that thinking is the thought that the plays you run in overtime will be successful but we all know how that turned out.A run was stopped for a short gain, another sack on a quick drop that was held too long and then a tackle for loss left us with a desperation length field goal attempt.One thing you can say about this Trojan team under Pete Carroll is that they are a bunch of fighters but something was missing in that final stretch of the game and it cost us.Carroll has preached the mantra "Finish" to this team and that is a lesson that will continue to be taught.
Troy Polamalu left the game after holding up on a potential big hit and awkwardly twisting his ankle.There is no word yet on the status of the injury although Polamalu was able to re-enter the game for a few plays in the second half.It's hard to judge the emotional impact the loss of their leader had on the USC defense but it's also hard to imagine the Cougars having that much offensive success with Polamalu on the field ….Jason Leach stepped in to replace Troy at strong safety and did an admirable job.Leach is a hard-hitter who has been waiting for his opportunity and he made the most of it with a key interception in the fourth quarter that gave USC life when we needed it……Ryan Kileen had been leading a charmed kicker life so far this year until missing the crucial extra point.Ryan did take out his frustration at missing that kick by putting the subsequent kickoff out of the end zone…..Tom Malone responded with a solid outing punting the ball.He was also the new holder on the extra point, replacing Matt Cassel for Kileen kicks, but that shouldn't be a factor as the snap/hold and kick is a process that should be executed properly at this level no matter what…..DeShaun Hill was robbed on a ticky-tack personal foul penalty at a key point in the game.This is still football and with the ball in the air the defender has every right to try and make a play…..Hershel Dennis had one impressive kickoff and also wanted the ball on the final return….Jermaine Green had a long 75 yard touchdown run for the Cougars but more impressively on another play he broke a solid tackle attempt by Shaun Cody behind the line of scrimmage ….The defense had an excellent goal line stand led by Melvin Simmons who sniffed out the QB option and was waiting to make the play….Kenechi Udeze had a sack and a caused fumble…..Chad Pierson was healthy enough to play and contributed nicely…..Brandon Hancock recovered a fumbled kickoff to open the second half….Malaefou MacKenzie seemed like the forgotten man until his TD reception….
All three of the top Trojan receivers had impressive days.Keary Colbert had four catches and has made a habit of pulling in the circus catches at critical times.Mike Williams had the play of the day when he went up and got the long pass from Palmer and trotted into the end zone for a go-ahead score late in the game.It was the type of big play that separates the elite players. Kareem Kelly caught a team high eight balls and showed courage with some tough yardage gained after his catches.
Strong Start Sultan
Sultan McCullough ran well early in the game with two big first down runs and a TD run on the opening drive
Timing is everything
Jason Leach and Mike Williams both came through with plays at a time when the Trojans really needed someone to make a big play.The pick by Leach gave us an opportunity to take the lead and Williams stepped up with a magical catch that looked to be the game winner.
It was a passing fancy in Pullman and the Trojans came so close to coming out of there with a win but under those circumstances it stands to reason that the Cougars could stay in the game.No matter how talented Carson Palmer may be and how bright his future is as an NFL quarterback he is still playing for the University of Southern California.We don't throw the ball 50 times here, they throw the ball 50 times at schools like WashingtonState.At USC we should have the talent year in and year out to establish a balanced offense, we may not have all the pieces in place right now but we certainly have enough talent to get the job done.It is tempting for any coach to see Carson and immediately begin drawing up passing plays to take advantage of his immense talent.His arm is second to none and he should only see more success at the next level when he has receivers running crisper routes with the hands to consistently catch the bullets he throws.Jason Gesser, on the other hand, will not be a high first round draft choice but he is just as important to his team as Carson is to the Trojans.Make no mistake about how vital Gesser was to this victory, his leadership and creativity kept the USC defense on their toes all night as he exploited the inexperience in our secondary and also caused havoc with our linebackers.William Buchanan was on an island all night and it showed, he has improved recently and looks to have a nice future but nothing can take away from the fact that six weeks ago he was a receiver.We also saw the first extended action for Marcell Allmond as Pete Carroll did everything he could to negate the physical advantage of the Cougar receivers.We got caught in a shootout and we lost, we let them force us to play their game and it cost us.It stands to reason that the Pac-10 conference champion will have no more than one loss so all of a sudden the Trojans have little room for error if they hope to be playing in Pasadena on New Years Day.We need Carson Palmer to be our leader, that much is clear, and hopefully the running game can join him and the secondary can hold up long enough to make that happen.
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