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USC Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 7 Game vs. Washington

Rick McMahanSenior Writer INovember 13, 2016

USC Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 7 Game vs. Washington

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    At some point this season, USC will very likely turn in a complete effort that finds them playing well in all facets of the game, and in doing so, they will finally reach the potential that so many hoped for them to attain at the beginning of the year.

    But not yet.

    In a maddening reprisal of a season-long malady, the Trojans played well enough to win but not much more.

    Not that they didn't have their chances, though.

    Time after time the men of Troy had opportunities to put this game away, but instead of ripping the heart out of their reeling opponent, they kept a flickering hope alive in the both the Huskies and their crowd.

    And in sustaining that optimism for Washington, they also revealed a bit about themselves.

    The Trojans still have a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

    This slideshow will look at the winners and losers from a game that should not have been this close.

    For those who made the winner category: Keep up the good work.

    Those who fell into the other group: Not to worry, there is plenty of time to find the other side of the ledger.

Loser: Matt Barkley

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    First, the obligatory disclaimer:

    Matt Barkley's inclusion under this label is only a reflection of this single game and in no way suggests he is anything but the ultimate winner, one of the greatest in Trojan history.

    Now that we have that out of the way, is it just me, or is Barkley woefully inconsistent this year?

    Just when it appears that he has turned the corner after excelling against Utah last week, he struggles against a Husky defense that should have been ripe for the picking after the Trojans running game shredded them for 204 yards on the ground.

    Instead, Barkley went 10-for-20 for 167 yards and a touchdown.

    Oh, and a pick too.

    Certainly not Heisman-worthy numbers, to be sure.

    Of course, one can't discount that as always, he provided calm leadership in a difficult place to play and came out with a win. That's big time.

    Still, the real Barkley is going to have to emerge in 2012, because the guy that played quarterback against the Huskies won't get the Trojans to the promised land with the performance he turned in against Washington.

Winner: Silas Redd

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    As stated before, the Trojans running game had a solid showing against Washington, and leading the way was Silas Redd.

    With 155 yards on 26 carries, Redd set the stage for his hard running with the very first scamper of the game, which he almost took to the house.

    Though denied on that very first carry, Redd would later find the end zone, and his ability to move the chains rescued a Trojan offense that came up short far too often at the most inopportune times.

Loser: Trojan Discipline (Or Lack Thereof)

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    If you are a Trojan fan looking through rose-colored glasses, then you might think USC's game against the Huskies represents an improvement of sorts in the penalty department.

    After all, they did commit four fewer penalties for 30 fewer yards than last week. Pretty good, eh?

    Not so much.

    As has been the case so often this year, the Trojans committed double-digit transgressions, some of which couldn't have come at more inconvenient times.

    All of which contributes to the men of Troy being among the most penalized teams in the country.

    Arguments have been made—and rightly so—that the Pac-12 is one of the most penalized conferences in the nation.

    However, in this game, USC owned the penalties they were given. In other words, these infractions were on the Trojans, not whistle-happy zebras.

    There is a litany of things the Trojans need to clean up as they go forward.

    Count committing penalties among them.

Winner: Dion Bailey

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    In what is becoming a redundant theme for USC in 2012, a sputtering offense was once again rescued by a stalwart Trojan defense.

    And while all of Monte Kiffin's boys had good games, linebacker Dion Bailey stood out.

    Bailey, as usual, was a leading tackler for the game, but he also played a huge role in creating turnovers by snagging a beautiful interception and then creating a fumble with a huge hit on Washington quarterback Keith Price.

    In a game that the Trojans could not have won without the enormous help of the defense in general, Dion Bailey specifically was a stud.

Loser: Lane Kiffin

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    Even the most optimistic Trojan fan has to be thinking the same thing:

    What the hell is going on with the offense, Coach Kiffin?

    These most confounding of deficiencies surrounding a unit that most thought would dominate in 2012 have been a season-long mystery, and it doesn't appear that those maladies will be solved anytime soon.

    What is even more disappointing is that the passing game is almost nonexistent and Kiffin has turned to the run almost at the exclusion of productivity through the air.

    On three separate occasions, USC faced 3rd-and-long, so what does Kiffin dial up?

    You got it—three runs. None of which secured a new set of downs.

    Six games into the season, and the Trojans most talented group—the skill players—seem as lost as ever.

    This should have been fixed a few games ago.

    It must be fixed now.

Winner: The Trojan Defense

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    As has been the case so often in 2012, USC's defense rose to the occasion, and due to its efforts, the Trojans escaped with a win in Seattle.

    Individual stars, whether it was defensive tackle Leonard Williams with his 2.5 tackles for loss, end Morgan Breslin with 1.5 sacks, defensive back Josh Shaw with an interception and a fumble recovery or Bailey and his game-changing heroics, all combined to create havoc for the Huskies' beleaguered offense.

    When it was all said and done, the defense created four turnovers and gave up only 299 total yards.

    In a game that could not have been won without its contributions, the Trojan defense was definitely a winner Saturday.

Conclusion

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    When any Pac-12 team goes on the road and wins a difficult game against a good opponent, the moniker "loser" becomes a relative term.

    To be certain, by definition, USC was a winner on Saturday, and that must not get lost in the thickets of analysis.

    Did individual players, coaches and units struggle against the Huskies? No doubt.

    But a win is a win, and for USC, especially on the road against Washington, this should be celebrated.

    However, at the same time, deficiencies must be acknowledged, and more importantly, remedied.

    The game the Trojans played against Steve Sarkisian's boys will not get the job done against Oregon or Notre Dame, and may not secure a win against any number of foes remaining on their schedule.

    This game, like so many others before in 2012, heralds a call for repair to a Trojan team that finds itself lacking in a number of areas.

    USC has not played to its ability this season.

    The time has come for that to change.

    Or else the Trojans will be relegated to the sad list of "also-ran."

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