September, 22, 2012
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 13 USC Trojans rebounded after an upset loss to Stanford last week and topped Cal at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, 27-9. Here's a report card for the Trojans.
The numbers don't reflect it, but Matt Barkley actually had an all right game against the Bears. His first-quarter interception on an end-zone fade to Robert Woods didn't look like it was his fault, and his other pick came on an unlucky tipped pass. Still, his Heisman campaign is going to take another hit after this one.
Hey, look what happens when you commit to running the ball! Lane Kiffin consistently called run plays on Saturday, and Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal each rewarded his decisions, combining to flirt with 300 yards. This needs to happen every week going forward.
IN THE TRENCHES
USC's defensive line is quickly becoming a strength. The Trojans' offensive line still needs a lot of work, but it's definitely improving. Having center Khaled Holmes on the field -- even though he clearly wasn't 100 percent -- helped a lot, and defensive end Morgan Breslin is already one of USC's best players.
Any time you can hold your opponent out of the end zone for 60 minutes, it's a good game. But, jeez, Cal quarterback Zach Maynard played pretty poorly in this one. There were several occasions when USC's defense left Bears receivers wide open and Maynard failed to capitalize.
Not punter Kyle Negrete's best day, and USC's kick coverage unit continued to commit penalties at a prolific rate. How good is Andre Heidari? He missed the past two games because of an injury but looked as good as always on his two converted field goal attempts Saturday.
Could the Trojans have won this game without the services of Holmes? It seems as if they could've, and it might have been a good idea to hold Holmes out for this one to ensure his health for the rest of this year. Kiffin does deserve some credit for preventing a drop-off after last week's upset.