John David Booty and the USC wide receivers have been heavily criticized all year for their inconsistent play, but the passing game came alive Thursday night and sparked the Trojans 44-24 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Earlier this week Pete Carroll said John David Booty had his best week of practice and it showed with a crisp performance. The Trojans senior quarterback came out firing early and never let up.
Booty led the Trojans on a 51-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession of the game, completing all six pass attempts to five different USC receivers. He capped off the scoring drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Vidal Hazelton.
Booty was on the mark all night completing 26 of 39 passes for 375 yards and matched a career-high with 4 touchdown passes. He also rushed for a touchdown.
USC also had four different players catch 5 passes (Davis, Turner, Hazelton, McKnight).
USC Defense batters Carpenter
The Sun Devils have allowed the second-most sacks in the nation, so junior quarterback Rudy Carpenter is used to getting banged around.
Carpenter came into the game with an injured thumb and by the time the Trojans were done with him he was battered and bloody.
"They came to hit tonight. That is the one thing that they did do. They hit me and they hit me good. They're a good team," said the Sun Devils' quarterback.
The USC defense led by defensive end Lawrence Jackson hit Carpenter early and often.
The Trojans had six sacks on the night, four of which were credited to Lawrence Jackson. The senior defensive end had his best game of the year by continually getting pressure off the edge.
Jackson's 4 sacks were a career-high and most by a USC defender since 1989.
Receivers are Catching On
The USC receivers had their best performance of the season tonight coming up with several big catches and yards after the catch.
Vidal Hazelton and Patrick Turner tied for the team lead with 5 catches. Turner led the USC receivers with 70 receiving yards and Hazelton added 36 yards and a touchdown.
Another good sign was John David Booty finally connected with freshman Ronald Johnson on a deep pass. Johnson's reception went for 33 yards.
For Trojans' Eight is Great
With the Trojans dominating 44-24 victory of the Sun Devils in Tempe, USC extended it's winning streak against Arizona State to eight games. In the streak the Trojans have won by an average score of 39.8 to 20.6.
Trojans Dominance of Arizona State:
2000 – USC, 44-38
2001 – USC, 48-17
2002 – USC, 34-13
2003 – USC, 37-13
2004 – USC, 45-7
2005 – USC, 38-28
2006 – USC, 28-21
2007 – USC, 44-24
Not so Special Teams
The Trojans impressive victory wasn't without some issues on special teams. USC has made critical mistakes on special teams all year and Thursday was no different.
Arizona State's Rudy Burgess answered the Trojans first score of the game with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and late in the game the Trojans got sloppy and had a punt blocked.
While these special teams blunders didn't have a major impact on tonight's game they are troubling because they are issues that the Trojans have experienced all season.
On a positive note, David Buehler connected on all three of his field goal attempts Thursday. Buehler made kicks of 42, 37 and 20 yards.
Fun Facts and Stats
• Thursday's victory over Arizona State was the first Thanksgiving Day game played by USC since 1938.
• USC Head coach Pete Carroll is now an amazing 23-0 in the month of November.
• Pete Carroll is now 27-7 against ranked opponents during his career at USC.
• USC's 44 points were the most allowed by Arizona State this season.
• Arizona State's 16 rushing yards were the fewest allowed by USC's defense this season.
• USC senior quarterback John David Booty is now 8-0 in his career against ranked opponents.
• Lawrence Jackson's 4 sacks were the most by a Trojan since Tim Ryan had 4 against UCLA in 1989.
• Kaluka Maiava started just his second game as a Trojan and recorded a career-high 10 tackles.