On a day where #5 Michigan -- a supposed national title contender -- lost at home to Division 1-AA Appalachian State, the Trojans took care of business and extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 34 games in a somewhat uneventful battle against an outmatched Idaho team. The Trojans did dominate and were in complete control the entire way, but there weren't many big or exciting plays generated by Pete Carroll's troops. Despite the lack of entertainment, there were some things we saw last night to get jacked up about, most notably, the emergence of sophomore tailback Stafon Johnson...
(1) Offensive line play -- The unit opened up some nice running lanes for tailbacks C.J. Gable and "The Prince" Stafon Johnson. USC attempted 34 passes and were sacked just once, while the running game racked up 214 yards on 32 rushes. Left Guard Jeff Byers led a very solid effort by the Big Nasties up front, which featured a freshman (Kris O'Dowd) starting at center for the first time in school history. If they can put out that kind of effort consistently, then USC's offense will be very good this season.
(2) Gable and Johnson -- With starting RB Chauncey Washington (shoulder) unavailable, the duo combined to rush 20 times for 132 yards. Gable (8 rush, 68 yds) got things started with a nice 33 yard run on USC's opening play and later put USC on top 14-0 with an 8 yard TD reception from John David Booty. Stafon (12 rush, 64 yds) added 2 rushing TD's and showed everyone why he was so highly touted coming out of LA's Dorsey High School a year ago.
(3) Shareece Wright -- The sophomore cornerback, and one of our favorite guys on the team, took advantage of the increased playing time that resulted from Josh Pinkard's unavailability. Wright made a case to receive more playing time, after delivering the hit of the game and playing seemingly tighter coverage than senior Terrell Thomas and junior Cary Harris. The Trojans will have a very good rotation at CB if Pinkard is back at 100 %.
Three things that USC can do better:
(1) Takeaways -- The Trojans didn't do anything too fancy on defense last night, but they still should have been able to generate more than just the 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 0 interceptions. Remember, this was Idaho, so it might have been hard for the guys to get up for this game, or maybe Coach Carroll is saving his complete arsenal for the next game at Nebraska in 2 weeks. We shall see...
(2) Big Plays on Offense -- There were really only 2 big plays produced by the offense last night and both came on USC's first two drives: (a) Gable's 33 yard run on USC's first play from scrimmage, and (2) a nice 35 yard pass from Booty to TE Fred Davis that helped set up Gable's TD catch. Those big plays showed flashes of the explosiveness that USC is capable of offensively, so let's see some more of that in Lincoln.
(3) Finish -- Though the game was in hand, USC was outscored 7-0 in the 4th quarter after a Joe McKnight fumble led to the Vandals' only touchdown. The Trojans only made 2 first downs in the final stanza, one of which was off a 15 yard facemask penalty on Idaho. The Trojans have been known as strong finishers in the Pete Carroll era, so this doesn't concern me very much, this may just be an aberration.
Any win is a good win, this has always been the case, but now the schedule gets tougher. The Trojans conveniently get a bye this next week, so that should allow for some of our players to rest up and heal for what should be a very challenging game in Lincoln, NE on September 15.