Tuesday, September 27, 2005

USC Takes Control in the Second Half

During Pete Carroll's tenure, the Trojans have struggled in conference openers on the road (1-3 coming into the game against Oregon with the lone win at Stanford last year) and Saturday at Autzen was no exception...at least for a half. During the first half, everything went wrong for the Trojans including penalties, turnovers and bad luck. However, with some help from Reggie and Lendale, USC battled back in to the game in the second quarter and flat out dominated in the second half to win 45-13.

Several of us made the trip to Autzen and can attest that it is a very tough place to play. The Trojans faced adversity in a hostile environment and by the end silenced the Ducks. Thanks to Curt and Dennis for getting the group together for the game...definitely worth the trip. Also thanks to Dan Withers for hooking us up at a nice Duck tailgate...always nice to get the local treatment.

Thoughts on the Oregon Game

  • It was clear that Duck fans had been gearing up for the Trojans for months.....largest crowd ever to see a game at Autzen Stadium
  • The Duck crowd was incredibly fired up and loud in the first half, but many Duck fans were too busy celebrating their first haf "victory" and missed the beginning of the third quarter....allowing the Trojans to drive down the field without much noise
  • USC scored 45 straight points in this game (including 35 in the second half), similar to the last game against Oregon (2002 at Autzen) where the Trojans scored 30 straight points in the second half to blow out the Ducks
  • The defense made a statement in this game (in my opinion). SC held the Ducks to 262 total yards (vs 491 average) and really controlled the game from the middle of the second quarter
  • USC only gave up only 1 pass over 20yds...a good sign for next week as ASU likes to throw deep
  • It was nice to see SC put pressure on Clemens (Duck QB)....the Trojans really put some hits on him in the second half....knocking him out for a few series at one point. The defensive line is starting to gel and Frostee Rucker is playing great
  • Keith Rivers made some big plays....showcasing his speed to shut down the option on a few occasions
  • Bing and Ware may have each played their best games as Trojans....at one point Darnell knocked down three passes in a row
  • USC ran the "big nickel" almost exclusively against the Ducks with Josh Pinkard as the 5th DB and Thomas Williams (SLB) coming off the field...Pinkard is a fast rising player who is really impressing the coaches
  • Kevin Ellison (#4 true freshman) made his debut in the big nickel (almost like a dime package) as well...he moved from his safety spot to play a blitzing SLB position
  • Just another day for the USC offense, 593 total yds and 45 pts.....the big difference was 278 yds rushing (6.6yds carry)
  • USC had 10 rushes over 10 yards...that is getting it done!
  • The offensive line is just dominant right now....Leinart has time to throw and Bush and White have holes through which to run. This is the strength of the team
  • Both Bush and White had over 100yds rushing (only second time this has happened) and Reggie finished with 267yds in total offense. Reggie also had a career high 30 touches
  • USC converted 71% of its third downs including a 3rd&20 and a 3rd&18
  • USC was penalized 11 times for 86yds continuing a disturbing trend. Under Pete Carroll the Trojans have been one the least penalized teams in the conference, but this year the penalty bug is certainly creaping in

ASU Preview

  • ESPN College Football GameDay will be in Tempe for the game, only the 4th PAC 10 game that ESPN has visited (USC twice and Oregon once)
  • This will be the 4th time in 13 games that GameDay is at a USC game (Cal, Notre Dame, Orange Bowl are the other 3)
  • ASU is ranked 14th in the current polls and is a very good team...probably better than Oregon
  • ASU is ranked #2 nationally in passing offense, #26 in rushing offense, #6 in scoring offense (47pts per game) and #4 in total offense (592yds game)
  • With this explosive offense, ASU is one of the few teams that could keep up with USC's scoring barrage
  • Unlike Oregon, ASU will throw the ball down field often going for the big play. Keller can run, but prefers to stay in the pocket....no spread option this week
  • Sam Keller is an outstanding QB and has very good WRs led by Derek Hagan and one of the best TEs in the country in Zach Miller
  • The big question mark for ASU is their running game. The Sun Devils ran effectively against Temple (300yds) and Northwestern (290yds), but struggled against LSU (99yds) and Oregon St (95 yds). I think USC will be able to contain the ASU running game, but would not be surprised to see a WR reverse be effective against the fast pursuing Trojans
  • Look for USC to run the "big nickel" package extensively again this week. Pinkard, Ellison and Colin Ashton (#59) should see the field often
  • Defensively, the Sun Devils have struggled a bit, giving up over 400yds in each of their last 3 games and 525yds to Oregon St last week
  • Given USC's success last week, I would look for USC to use the short/mid passing game to set up the run. I think USC will try and control clock to keep the explosive Sun Devil offense off the field
  • USC is ranked 5th nationally in passing offense, 13th in rushing offense, 2nd in scoring offense (59pts/game) and second in total offense (616yds/game)
  • With all the concern about the USC defense, the Trojans are ranked 25th in scoring defense...allowing less than 16pts per game
  • The Trojans are lagging behind previous years in terms of turnovers and turnover margin, lets hope that USC can get back on track in this department vs ASU

While Sun Devil Stadium is not Autzen, make no mistake, this will be a very tough game. Just like every team the Trojans play, the Sun Devils' have had this game circled on the calendar and are are looking for revenge from last year's 45-7 defeat at the Coliseum. Let hope the Trojans can grind out another tough road win before returning to the friendly confines of the Coliseum next week.

Fight On!


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