Aerial Show

Colbert had one touchdown catch on a beautiful throw from Carson and one drop that he was still talking about long after the game was over but it was the type of game that even a dropped pass brought smiles and a pat on the butt because so much else was going right.

The Trojans used an impressive passing game with Carson Palmer and Mike Williams leading the way as USC posted a solid 41-21 victory over the Washington Huskies on Saturday in front of 52,961 fans at the Coliseum.   Palmer completed 21 of 34 for 348 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to the freshman Williams who ended the day with nine total catches for 159 yards.  The USC defense held UW to -5 yards on the ground and forced Cody Pickett to throw 61 times on the day, a factor that resulted in two timely interceptions for the Trojans.  The victory improves the Trojans to 5-2 overall (3-1 in the conference) and sets up a huge showdown next week in Eugene. 

 

Aerial Show

 

Many Trojan fans were thrilled last week to see the running game take on such an extended role but there was no sense being foolish in this game and trying to run too much against a defense that was lining up 8 or 9 men "in the box".  The Huskies also had the worst pass defense in the conference and our coaches and players were confident they could exploit that weakness.  We certainly didn't abandon the run and that was key.  Sultan McCullough struggled for the yardage he got but the mere fact that he still ran the ball 22 times kept the defense honest enough that we were able to achieve great success using the play action pass.  It helped that Carson Palmer showed the best touch we have seen from him on deep passes so far in his career.  We saw the complete package from Carson on Saturday, he looked so confident standing back there in the pocket that not even a couple dropped passes would shake him.   On the receiving end of three touchdown passes was Mike Williams and he is starting to make the extraordinary look routine.  Mike tied a USC record for TD catches in a game while posting his 3rd straight 100-yard receiving performance.  He went head to head in a "Battle of #1 WR's named Williams" with the talented Reggie Williams of Washington and Mike didn't give an inch, when the game was over the most important W was the one on the scoreboard for USC.  It was also the first time USC had a pair of WR's with over 100 yards receiving since 1999 as Keary Colbert averaged over 20 yards per catch on 7 grabs for the day.  Colbert had one touchdown catch on a beautiful throw from Carson and one drop that he was still talking about long after the game was over but it was the type of game that even a dropped pass brought smiles and a pat on the butt because so much else was going right. 

 

Extra points

 

Congratulations to Justin Fargas on his first touchdown as a Trojan and it was a very nice run indeed.  Justin showed flashes of his ability to hit the hole quickly and what a bonus it would be to have him comfortable running the ball in the coming weeks.…..Ryan Kileen got drilled at the end of one kick but he came back strong with a couple kickoffs out of the end zone…..David Kirtman caused a fumble on kickoff coverage that was recovered by the Huskies.  Kirtman has made good progress and could be more of a factor next season…..Marcell Allmond got his first start at corner and went head to head all game with star receiver Reggie Williams.  Marcell also participated on every special team so it was a full day but he more than held his own with an effort that gives a lot of comfort to Trojans worried about the lack of size at the corner spot.  Williams got his share of catches and made some plays late in the game when Allmond was a little wore out but when you throw the ball 61 times your star guy is likely to make some plays, all in all it was a very good day for Marcell….Malaefou MacKenzie had a big third down reception and also put on an impressive shake move to lose a Husky defender in the open field…..Greig Carlson has the right kind of attitude to be a punt returner

 

Sideline Notes

 

Troy Polamalu was playing on a badly sprained ankle but provided a courageous performance including an important interception.  His running skills after the pick showed why Kennedy Pola wanted to move him to RB last season after all the Trojan injuries at that spot.

 

Matt Grootegoed also had a clutch interception with a long runback but Groots said after the game that his running skills have deserted him.  His tackling skills have obviously not left him, however, as Matt might be the most solid tackler on the defense.

 

Tom Malone has made dramatic in-game improvement in recent weeks with the types of booming kicks that have become routine on the practice field.  His ability to impact field position changes was critical to help control the early part of this game.

 

Key to the game - Stopping the run

 

The Washington Huskies had publicly stated last week that they were placing a priority on running the football against the Trojans.  Up until this point in the season UW had not posed much of a running threat and perhaps they sensed an opportunity against a USC defense that was missing stalwart Shaun Cody and was hampered with an ankle injury to Troy Polamalu.  Whatever the thinking was, it didn't work as the Trojans completely shut out the Washington run game by holding them to negative yardage on the day.  The performance by Kenechi Udeze was exactly the tonic needed for the defensive line as he notched one sack, three tackles for loss and a blocked field goal.  There is no way to minimize the loss of Cody but the play of Udeze can go a long way to ease the pain.  By taking away the threat of a run Pete Carroll was able to manage the success of the Washington pass attack, even one that is as proficient as the one we saw with Cody Pickett, Reggie Williams and Braxton Cleman by making them earn anything they got and not allowing any easy big plays.  This is the type of Trojan defense we have seen through the years with the ability to control a game and that ability increases dramatically if we can take away one dimension of an offense. 

 

Final thoughts

 

Bring on the Ducks.  There are times in the career of a player or coach where a certain game will mean just a little bit more and there is no denying the many subplots that will exist for this match-up.  The victory over Washington was important to stay alive in the Rose Bowl race and maintain the momentum of solid play but now we turn our attention to next Saturday and a game that for so many reasons will provide the true measure of where we are as a program.  We've seen a swagger return to our team and even Tony Boselli told the team last week that the NFL Trojans are once again proud of the way they play.  For all that good feeling, however, there is no denying that Oregon has been a nemesis for the Trojans in recent years and if we are truly going to "turn the corner" as a football program then the best way to do that is to go up to Eugene and come away with a victory.  Much was made in the local media this summer after Oregon purchased billboard space in downtown LA to promote their team but there are no words that can provide a better response than for us to go up there and take care of business.  No matter how many gains we think have been made under Pete Carroll, no matter how much we have improved in so many areas, the ultimate tests at some point come on the field in the big games and we have an opportunity on Saturday to take one of those tests.  The good news is that we are prepared.  We have a focus and sense of purpose that has been missing at times in recent years.  We have a group of coaches that will have the game plan ready and a contingent of senior leaders who have been here before.   The past few meetings between the two schools has brought more than a fair share of heartache to Trojan fans and it is time for that to change.  It is time for that to change. 


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