After watching USC summarily dismantle San Jose State this weekend, I’m not sure how much we can glean considering the caliber and quality of the opposition. San Jose State is probably a much better team than Charleston Southern or the University of Louisiana Monroe—schools other perennial powerhouses kicked off the season against.
But really, this was just a nice way to shake off the first game jitters, break in a new freshman quarterback, and see if it was possible to have 432 running backs featured in one game.
The Buckeyes' opponent, Navy, is far better than San Jose State, but they really should not have given fits to OSU. Hopefully, the Buckeyes shake it off and give the Trojans a better fight than what they put up in their opener, and certainly we're hoping for a better game than last year's showing in their visit to the Coliseum.
We did learn quite a few things on Saturday, though, that will prove quite important for the meeting at the Horseshoe against the Buckeyes.
A Leader Has Emerged from the Pack
Joe McKnight, with glue on his hands, is ready to break out this year and finally prove he might be worth all the pre-freshman “here’s the next Reggie Bush” hype. To be clear, he’s not the next Reggie Bush; but boy, did he look pretty on a few of his runs.
It's Not Always the Fastest Guy Who Finishes First
Damian Williams is Mike Williams and Keary Colbert wrapped together. He’s not the fastest receiver around. He’s certainly not the biggest. But Damian Williams is the Trojans' most reliable receiver by far. There isn’t really anyone close. Ausberry is fantastic (I’ve always loved that guy) and McCoy is a stud, but Williams is just special.
Let's Run the Football
Jeremy Bates has no fear in running the football. The fans have been screaming it for years and we finally have a play-caller ready to play smash mouth football. We have 72 blue chip running backs (again, obviously a bit of an exaggeration...a bit) ready to run their fresh legs all over defenses.
We have an offensive line that's experienced, big, and wildly intelligent. This should be the year to run, run, run, and then play action pass all day long. With 342 yards rushing in the opener, it’s pretty safe to say that the new OSU LB corps should be ready for McKnight, Johnson, Bradford, Gable, and Tyler. They’re all coming.
Welcome to the Big Time, Mr. Big Time
As a Trojan fan, it would be great to say that Matt Barkley’s coming out performance showed that this kid has the mettle and intangibles to be USC’s leader for the next three or four years. In reality, it was just a way for him to get his first college football game-speed action out of the way and to do so in winning fashion.
He was good, don’t get me wrong. But his real coming out party will happen in Columbus after his first big win.
Trojan D Reloading? Consider It Reloaded
The Taylor Mays-led USC defense is really, really fast. It seems like everyone on last year’s defense was drafted in the first three rounds, and this year there was wide concern about what would be of the Trojan D.
Taylor Mays and the rest of his returning backfield mates—Kevin Thomas, Will Harris, and Josh Pinkard—did a fine job shutting down the San Jose State receivers and the new linebackers—Chris Gallipo (who led the team with nine tackles), Malcolm Smith, and Michael Morgan—shored up the middle of the field.
The front four weren’t too shabby neither, racking up 3.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
How Will They Fare?
There’s nothing to suggest that the Trojans will run the table this year, as we’ve predicted in years past. Last year it was all but a given that the ridiculously talented squad would play Florida for the BCS title in early January and we know how that ended.
They are certainly talented and very well could play for the BCS Championship, but there are a lot of games between here and Pasadena.
This week against the Buckeyes, the defense will be tested with a mobile quarterback and a solid offensive line. The Buckeyes always have a solid defense and if they figure out how to get into the backfield and rattle Barkley, the young QB will be forced to show some of that mettle and poise we’ve all heard so much about.
A win in Columbus would give the Trojans a head full of steam to run into a stiff conference schedule and would answer so many “what ifs” and lingering questions about this team rebuilding from a round of key personnel losses. Either way, the Trojans will have their first real test on both sides of the ball.