Well, what can anyone really say about this terrific win? The answer is PLENTY! I am willing to bet the farm, so to speak, that there were lots of negative vibes circulating amongst the Trojan Faithful at the end of the first half. There we were, once again trailing an obviously inferior team due to anything but lack of talent. Folks, to my way of thinking, we should have been up by a minimum of ten points if not more at half time. I had told members of a private little chat group that Oregon could simply not beat USC. I was positive that USC could beat USC, but not this Duck Team. There was simply no way on earth that their D could stop both the running and the passing that the Trojans bring to the table. Despite the fact that we trailed at half time, nothing had occurred to change my mind about anything.
One had to wonder what we were doing on Defense in the first half. Oregon failed to score on their last possession only. For much of the first half, Fife had enough to pay his monthly bills while in the pocket. For whatever reason, and I don't believe it was primarily the absence of Shaun Cody, SC was nowhere near the Oregon quarterback. No matter how good defensive backs play, a decent quarterback with 8 full seconds to throw will rip them time and again. Thankfully, somewhere near the end of the first half, the Trojans started to bring some heat and all it did was WORK. To their credit, the Trojans did bend more than break in that first half.
The game was a tale of two halves. In the third quarter, this Trojan team played some of the most dominant football that I can recall seeing in many many years, especially against a quality opponent on the road. The Trojans Offense was simply unstoppable. This team was scoring at will. The Ducks could not cover any of our talented receivers and especially not Mike Williams. The Oregon Defense could not stop our new starting tailback --Justin Fargas---either. As the third quarter progressed, the SC team gained total control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Our Oline protected the qb very well and they opened holes that Justin hit like a man possessed. He did not dance and he broke several tackles. He brought that attitude that many of us had only heard about to the LOS and boy was it fun to watch. And on the the Defensive side of the ball, we may have seen the emergence of a key new substitute--a guy who will really play a key role for the rest of the season and that is Doyal Butler. Doyal brought size, strength, speed and attitude to a very thin DE position and he allowed Omar Nazel to get the much needed rest he so desperately had to have.
For the most part, the offense was incredible once again. USC ran and threw the ball and had about 612 total yards. That is a dominant performance by anyone's standards. I am one who had to wonder what in the world was going on with our red zone calls, especially in that weird first half. We did win and in the end, that is the most important. Carson has played all world as of late, but nonetheless that pick he threw in the first half made me cringe. I am not sure which I hated more, the call or the execution. However, CP did not make what many have termed his two bad plays this game. He threw 5 TD's and only one interception so I guess it is fair to say that nobody's perfect. Then when we had the ball down close again only to come up short on that "are you kidding me" draw play, I almost lost it. I am not kidding when I write that I just knew after that gem of a call that the FG would be no good and the rest is history. ARGHARGH--can we eliminate that part of the game??
In the coaches defense, not that they need it, the team that came out in the second half was superb. They did it all. The fact that Bellotti kept his first teamers late in the game to pad their statistics and to make the game seem closer than it ever was cannot and should not take anything away from the awesome performance by the USC Trojans. Coach Chow seemed as great in the second half as he seemed out of touch in the redzone in the first half. The pressure that was nowhere to be found in the first half was all over the place in the second half and at one point the Trojans were ahead in second half offense something like 276 yards to less than 10. By anyone's standards, that is spelled Trojan superiority. At the end of the game, it made sense to bring in the back up quarterback, though part of me wanted to see SC rub it into the Ducks but good and I also thought Carson deserved a shot at 6 TD passes in one game to break the record. He has had his share of miseries at Eugene and it seemed like he deserved it. Then when the decision to play Leinart was made, I could not help but wonder why he never got a chance to throw a meaningful pass. I know, I know, some of us are simply never satisfied, right?
We still have many very important games left and we better see a huge improvement in our special teams or it could very well cost us a shot at a major bowl. Our kickoff coverage is as bad as any I have ever seen and what's up with the blocked PAT and field goal? I guess the limited practice time and limited number of full time assistants might be to blame, but this special teams play has to be driving the coaches and fans nuts. One can only hope that a missed PAT does not end up costing this team again. There are certain things that have to be accomplished and improvement in that phase of the game is vital. And just to show how unpredictable this all is, who out there really thought the 48 yard field goal would be good? Go figure.
It would not be fair not to single out a few individuals and units for special praise. I can't say how impressive the Oline was. There were two sacks, but to my way of thinking, only one was a surprise. That first blitz was a good call, but the second was as predictable as pie and the wrong play seems to have been called. No way any Oline can pick up about 8 rushers all at once. Justin Fargas played a lights out game and he showed me that he really is all that when healthy. In one prior opinion I wrote that Sultan deserved to be the man. However, after watching him dance all game against Udub, I can't find fault with the decision to go to Justin. He did not disappoint. I also think Kareem Kelly once again played a terrific game. He is coming up big and his blocking did not go unnoticed early on. His speed is awesome and before this is all over, I still think he will make some bigtime plays.
We are now 6-2 and we are still in the hunt for big things. Each week brings another challenge and opportunity and the team and staff must take one step at a time. This bye comes at a great time. The team is banged up and this will let some guys rest and heal. My heart tells me that many fans are already looking forward to the Bruins and to the Irish. Big mistake!! Those games are always huge, but there are several items on the agenda to take care of first. I personally can't stand playing Stanford. They seem to have their best games against us and it's time to set them straight. That happens to be the very next big game.