USC Trojans: A COMPLETE GAME – Finally!

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IOctober 16, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16:  Shane Vereen #34 of the California Golden Bears is chased by Armond Armstead #94, Shareece Wright #24 and Nick Perry #8 of the USC Trojans during the first quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

If you were one of those fans who got off the bandwagon one or two games back, you were probably anywhere but the Coliseum today.

It was one of those drizzly, overcast days reminding one of the Pacific Northwest. So you were probably taking the kids to the movies or catching up on all those chores the wife has been hounding you about.

If you were fortunate enough to evade the kids and ignore the wife, then you were probably tuned into the Texas-Nebraska game.

No use watching a USC-Cal shootout, where the last team with the ball wins. And that will probably be Cal. 

The Trojans defense is atrocious. It makes you sick to watch, and you’re off the bandwagon until they get rid of Monte Kiffin and his ridiculous "Tampa 2" defense.

Well, guess what? Today the Trojans finally played the complete game that the coaching staff has been hoping they would.

The Trojan defense reared its nasty head at last, and they were awesome, shutting down the Cal offense and shutting out the Bears in the first half, 42-0.

The offense was unstoppable, scoring six touchdowns in seven first-half possessions.

Matt Barkley threw five touchdown passes to increase his total to 20 against only four picks. He finished early in the third period with 352 yards on 25-for-37 passing.

But you knew the Trojan offense was good but maybe not quite this good. Hanging 48 points and amassing 602 total yards against the nation’s No. 8 defense was more than anyone expected.

The real news, however, is the way the beleaguered Trojan defense played. It was well into the second quarter before the Bears could manage a first down, and they never crossed the goal line before intermission.

It was a different story in the second half as the Bears outscored the Trojans reserves and walk-ons 14-6. Still, the Bears, who have been averaging 215 rushing yards per game, could only manage 53 yards on the ground.

The defense stood out in one statistic that had been their downfall all season. The Cal offense was successful on only two of 10 third-down tries.

There were tackles for loss, sacks and interceptions, including one by DaJohn Harris. The defense was flying around and knocking people down unlike we have seen all year.

Ultimately, the game ball goes to the entire coaching staff for keeping this team focused after two consecutive last-second losses by a total of three points.

It was vital for the Trojans to go into their bye week with an upbeat feeling.  They have not suffered three straight losses since 2001—Pete Carroll’s first year at the helm.

With Oregon staring at them on the other side of that bye week, a 5-2 record (2-2 in the Pac-10) is a world above 4-3 (1-3 in the Pac-10) and three consecutive losses.

The way this Trojan staff was able to hold this team together and have the tortured defense play the kind of ball that Trojan fans are used to is nothing short of outstanding.

The defense had been playing as individuals until today. Finally, Trojans fans were not only treated to a complete game but a complete “team” game. 

On the defensive side, the Trojans clogged the running lanes and brought the heat, putting pressure on Cal quarterback Kevin Riley. 

“The plan was to be really aggressive today,” Kiffin explained, praising the defense for the way they responded to the challenge. “I was really proud of those guys.”

So, what is the plan for the bye week?

“To get healthy,” Kiffin said emphatically.

I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

By the way, did the kids enjoy that movie?