Successful Road Trip....Home Stretch Ahead
For the first time during the overlapping Jeff Tedford and Pete Carroll eras, USC and Cal did not play a close game as the Trojans won 35-10 in a very convincing manner. Due to shaky Cal quarterback play and the improving USC defense, the Bears were never able to mount a charge. Matt Leinart looked sharp both throwing the ball and running it, while the defense continued to play tough and force turnovers, despite continued injuries.
Another night game this week with kickoff at 7:15. The game is sold out and has been sold out since August...I expect about 20,000 Bulldog fans to be in attendance. The excitement is building as the Trojans play their last two regular season games at home...The crowd is going to be a full 92,000 and will be very loud. Given the excitement and the large Fresno contingent, I expect this to be an early arriving crowd. Phil Navarro will be setting up his traditional lobster and fish feast for this game....it was awesome last year!
Please let me know if you plan on attending (and how many) so we can plan accordingly.
This is the traditional rivalry week in college football so there are some great games to watch during the tailgate. Virgina Tech vs Virgina, Michigan vs Ohio St., Alabama vs Auburn, Oregon vs Oregon St. and Cal vs Stanford are some of the games we plan on viewing.
- Leinart had an outstanding game and his numbers would have been much better, but for a few dropped passes
- Matt's two TD runs add a new dimension to our offense in the red zone...one more thing for opposing LBs and defensive coordinators to think about
- I was impressed with Cal's defense, particularly the secondary. The Bears did a good job of holding Reggie in check, but Lendale had an outstanding day
- Cal's CB Hughes (#13) had nice coverage most of the day on Jarrett and also had some solid tackles in the open field
- It was good to see Dom Byrd getting some balls thrown his way...hopefully he knocked off some of the rust last week and will make some plays this week
- Fred Davis continues to be an outstanding blocker...Davis and Byrd is a difficult two tight end set to deal with
- Interesting to see the reverse to McFoy....I wonder if that is his payback for blocking so well on the running plays
- How about those USC freshman LBs! Maluagua and Cushing were the two leading tacklers and Rey also had an interception and a fumble recovery...amazing to see the talented depth the Trojans have on this team
- I was shocked at how poorly Joe Ayoob, Cal's QB, played...however, the Trojan defense does deserve some credit for making him look that bad
- The defense forced 6 turnovers (4 pics, 2 fumbles) after forcing 5 turnovers last week. The Trojans are now +17 for the year in turnovers, ranked 1st in the conference and third nationally
- I know I have said this the last few weeks, but the Trojan defense is really starting to gel. The secondary seems stronger with Pinkard at corner and the DL is becoming a force to reckon with. With John Walker getting healthy and Oscar Lua possibly returning to the line-up, USC's defense may be peaking at the right time
- USC held Cal to under 300 total yards and kept both RBs (Lynch and Forsett) under 100 yds rushing
- The Cal wide receivers caught 5 passes for 28 yards...that is an amazing stat!
- USC fans had a very impressive showing at Cal...I would estimate 18k-22k in attendance. The Trojan crowd was loud when Cal had the ball and the Spirit of Troy just took over the stadium....It was a great experience!
Fresno St. Preview
- The Bulldogs are 9-1 and ranked 16th in the polls...their only loss was a close 37-34 defeat to Oregon in Eugene
- Fresno St comes in with some lofty statistical rankings....#5 in scoring offense (40 pts per game) and #8 in scoring defense (15 pts per game)
- It is hard to evaluate the Bulldog's statistical rankings because the quality of their competition is so low...opponents are 37-48 and when they played 7-2 Toledo, the Rockets were without their star QB
- Fresno has a veteran QB (Paul Pinegar), two backs who have rushed for 1,000 yards (Mathis and Sumlin), a legit NFL receiver (Paul Williams) and a quick shifty WR/Return guy in Adam Jennings
- Fresno is a run first team (178 yds per game) and the Bulldogs keep it on the ground 57.4% of the time (vs 47.8% for USC). However, the Bulldogs do like to throw the ball downfield to Paul Williams who is averaging over 19 yds per catch (higher average than any Trojan)
- Williams is 6'2 and fast...also a dangerous runner on the reverse or end around
- The Bulldogs have a good balanced offensive attack that will challenge the Trojans. Pinegar is a mobile guy and he may give the USC defense a bit of trouble outside the pocket
- I expect the Bulldogs to try and run the ball and use the short passing game to try and control the clock and move the chains....Fresno is ranked 3rd nationally in 3rd down conversion percentage at 53.7%. I also expect the Bulldogs to utilize Pinegar in their running game...both planned QB runs and scrambles
- While Fresno has been successful running the ball this year, they did struggle to run the ball against Oregon (their one quality opponent) ....Mathis had 70 yards on 18 carries, less than 4 yards per carry...I think the Trojans will be ready and well prepared to face the Fresno rushing attack
- Fresno has had success throwing the deep fade down the sidelines to Paul Williams, I fully expect the Trojans to keep a safety over the top of Williams all/most of the game and force the Bulldogs to beat them with running and short passes
- Defensively, the Bulldogs play a hard aggressive style. I am impressed with their DL, but feel that USC will find ways to use that style against Fresno (middle screen after play action, mis direction runs, etc)
- Fresno has very good special teams, particularly punt return and kickoff return...it is important that the Trojans do not let the Bulldogs make big plays in the return game
- The Bulldogs have struggled with penalties this year, particularly false starts....let's hope the Coliseum crowd is loud and makes a difference!
Fresno is a talented team and one that will be a challenge to the Trojans. Lets hope that the Trojans can earn another home victory. See you Saturday.