Keys to the Game Revisited–USC vs. Notre Dame

The USC Trojans trounced the Notre Dame Fighting Irish; back-up Quarterback Mark Sanchez leads team to his second victory in as many starts. The Fighting Irish are now 1-7 and Trojans up its record to 6-1. We will review the ‘Keys to a Trojan Victory.'

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KEYS TO A TROJAN VICTORY REVISITED

Quarterback Leadership

We said: "It looks like Mark Sanchez will lead the Trojans this weekend. Sanchez needs to play under control and keep mistakes at a minimum. It is important, then for Sanchez to limit mistakes and to bring his fiery leadership style to lift the Trojans to victory."

Sanchez did indeed get the start, and he did not disappoint. After a bumpy start by the Trojans, he led the team to a convincing win over the Irish. It was a near perfect performance by Sanchez who was 21 of 38 with 235 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

The quarterback threw touchdown passes of 10, 8, 5 and 48 yards. To add icing to a nice Trojan Cake(walk), Sanchez high-fived the Marching Band at the end of the game.

We said: "Tailback Who? Stafon Johnson has proven himself as the most prolific running back but will probably not be available for full-time duty."

In a surprise development Stafon Johnson was available and had an admirable game.

We also said: "Two running backs need to be at or over the 100-yard mark for this game. Look for McKnight to be a factor in this game."

The Trojans ran for 227 yards on 36 carries.

Receiving Corps

We said: "The best receiver by far for the Trojans this season has been tight end Fred Davis. The wide receivers have been spotty at best. The receivers need to get on track...one or two wide receivers need to step up in this game."

Trojan receivers had 235 yards on 21 catches for a 6.2 yards per catch average. This was by far the best performance for the receivers this year.

Offensive Line

We said: "The second-unit offensive line unit needs to come up big, protect Sanchez and open holes for Washington and McKnight."

In an incredible display of depth, the offensive line has played up to each game this season despite injuries. Spanos, Butch Lewis and Tiny Malu all turned in good games, in addition to the only lineman who started the season on the line, Keith Byers.

Linebackers

We said: "Williams will start at the middle, Clay Matthews on the strong side and Keith Rivers will be at his usual weak side. Cushing will be available this game. This week middle linebacker Rey Maualuga has been nursing a hip pointer."

Surprise, surprise – Rey Maualuga was available for this game and had a solo sack and an assisted sack of the quarterback.

We also said: "Rivers, Williams and Matthews will be counted on to be the strength of this group. Cushing, Kaluka Maiava and Luther Brown need to play up in relief of the various linebackers."

The linebackers played big, each turning in big plays and a complete game. Cushing and Maualuga played well and look to be back from their respective injuries.

Managing the Environment

We said: "USC needs to get off to a quick start to hold the home crowd at bay. It can be a very tough stadium to play in if you fall behind or are hanging by a thread at the end of the game. The Trojans need to make the crowd a non-factor by building up a good lead in the game."

From the opening kickoff, the home crowd was flat. Partially because of a bad year for the Irish and partially because of an expectation of Trojan dominance, the crowd laid silent all game, even at the beginning when the Trojans appeared shaky.

We also said, "If it rains, hails, sleets or snows, the quarterback and skill positions need to take care of the ball and not fumble or allow interceptions if the weather becomes difficult."

It was warm, bright and sunny at Notre Dame Stadium. The only adverse weather was Thursday evening, when the team experienced a scary landing on approach to the airport.


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