USC Football: Offense Had Record-Setting Day; Is Hurry-Up Offense Here to Stay?

Amy LamareSenior Analyst IOctober 22, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  Wide receiver Robert Woods #2 of the USC Trojans catches a pass for a touchdown ahead of defensive back Kenneth Crawley #2 of the Colorado Buffaloes in the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

First let’s get the rankings out of the way: The USC Trojans move up to No. 9 in the BCS poll, No. 8 in the USA Today coaches' poll and No. 10 in the AP poll.

Saturday’s 50-6 blowout of Colorado was much needed for both the team and their fans. It is always a good time when the offense fires on most of their cylinders, points are put up, records are broken, records are set and even the backup QB Max Wittek gets a TD.

In short, it was a lot of fun to watch. However, the Trojans continued to rack up penalties—nine on Saturday night, though mercifully none for a false start or delay of game. That’s progress, right?

The Internet is abuzz with USC fans crowing about Matt Barkley’s 100-TD Pac-12 record, Robert Woods breaking the all-time USC receiving record and the offense putting up 50 points while the defense allowed only a pair of field goals. Special teams blocked two field goals, and the Trojans shut out the Buffaloes in the second half.

But wait just a minute, Trojan fans. While what we all witnessed on Saturday was impressive, it is important to keep in mind the fact that Colorado is hapless. The Buffaloes are ranked near the bottom of the 120 FBS programs in nearly every defensive category. Colorado, in other words, didn’t put up much of an attack.

USC exploited Colorado’s ineptness, coming out of the gate with a hurry-up offense that was nearly Oregon-like in nature. The Trojans’ first three touchdown drives lasted a grand total of two minutes and 50 seconds for 163 yards in eight plays. The Trojans went no-huddle, exciting the crowd and showing that Lane Kiffin might in fact have something up his sleeve for the final five games on the Trojans' 2012 schedule.

Colorado was a good in-game test for this new-look Trojan offense. If they decided to roll out the no-huddle attack against Oregon, USC could succeed in disarming the Oregon offense, wearing down the defense and potentially expose weaknesses in the Duck’s D.

Just the thought of that is pretty exciting, but make no mistake, Colorado’s defense is nowhere near what USC will face against Oregon, ASU, UCLA and Notre Dame.

Still, it is a start, and it is an improvement. Next week at Arizona could provide further opportunity for the Trojans to run the hurry-up offense as Arizona has been very weak in handling fast-paced offenses so far this year.

With the hurry-up offense in effect, the Trojans scored a TD on the second play of the game, a 55-yard pass from Matt Barkley to Marqise Lee. On the next defensive series, Drew McAllister had an interception, which Matt Barkley and Robert Woods turned into a 39-yard touchdown. 

On the first play of the next drive, USC forced a Colorado fumble, which Barkley and Xavier Grimble turned into an eight-yard TD. Barkley had six TD passes on the night, surpassing his own USC record. He also threw for his 100th career TD at USC (he’d have 102 by the end of the night), breaking the Pac-12 record formerly held by Matt Leinart.

Barkley also set a Pac-12 record for completion percentage Saturday night with 95 percent—breaking former UCLA star and coach Rick Neuheisel’s decades-old record. He fell just short of the NCAA record, which is held by receivers coach Tee Martin from his days at Tennessee.

Robert Woods had eight catches for 138 yards with four of those for touchdowns, enabling him to overtake Dwayne Jarrett to become the all-time reception leader for USC. Saturday night Woods also became the first USC player with four touchdown receptions in a single game. Woods now has 220 catches in his USC career with five games yet to play.

The mood in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was decidedly celebratory.

Overall, Barkley was 19-of-20 on the night for 298 yards and the aforementioned six touchdowns.

It was a great display of talent on USC’s part, albeit one set against a Colorado team unable to put up much of a fight. That said, USC needed a night like this to restore their confidence and mojo as well as shore up the wounded pride of their rabid fanbase who expects so very much from this team and this program. It was exactly what the Trojan Nation needed to face the tough stretch ahead.

Whether or not the hurry-up offense becomes a staple of the remainder of the season is yet to be determined. However, the idea of it and how it could aid the Trojans in upsetting some very fierce competition is pretty exciting.