Saturday, November 12, 2011
By Pedro Moura
Matt Barkley didn't mess up at all, save for a couple overthrows. But he didn't do anything worthy of netting the passing game an 'A' grade, despite the dominant win over Washington. Marqise Lee showed up just fine, but where was Robert Woods?
Curtis McNeal hasn't had a bad game since September. He certainly didn't have one Saturday, with his beastly 79-yard run in the third quarter and 148-yard day in total. Marc Tyler also had himself a quiet 50 yards in his return from a shoulder injury.
IN THE TRENCHES
Finally, for the first time in Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron's tenure at USC, the Trojan defensive line produced consistent pressure on an opposing offense. And look what happened -- USC won going away. The O-line also kept Barkley off the ground except for his Jim Kelly-esque sack.
There were plenty of positive signs defensively. Even when USC took a big lead the Trojans didn't just crumble like they have on so many other occasions. Washington got some late yards, sure, but it wasn't a complete free-for-all like it has been in the past.
If we could give out pluses, this unit would be the first ever to earn one. John Baxter's players made a difference in Saturday's game, from Lee's second-half-opening kickoff return for a touchdown to Kyle Negrete's key 35-yard run on a fake punt.
Kiffin's team was prepared, as it almost always is, but there were a couple late-game decisions that prevent this from being a top grade. For one, why wasn't Barkley out as soon as the Trojans got the ball back with a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter?