Saturday, September 8, 2012
By Pedro Moura
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The No. 2 USC Trojans fought through an hour-long severe weather delay to top Syracuse, 42-29, at MetLife Stadium on Saturday. Here's a report card for how the Trojans performed in their second game of the 2012 season:
It might've been the sneakiest six-touchdown game in history. This wasn't A-quality work from Matt Barkley, and that shows how high expectations for him this season. He had a nice streak going in the second and third quarters, but that was ruined by a bad deep throw to Robert Woods that was picked off.
This was a significant improvement over Week 1, but, still, that's the best USC could do? Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, two 1,000-yard rushers in 2011, gained more than six per rush, but they got only a combined 25 carries. Maybe some run calls could've replaced those boring bubble screens.
IN THE TRENCHES
USC's offensive line was downright poor for much of this game, as evidenced by Lane Kiffin's repeated avoidance of anything that required Barkley to stay in the pocket for more than three seconds. But the Trojans' defensive line played well for the second straight game, even though two key ends were out in the second half.
Considering Syracuse put up 41 points a week ago, USC did OK to hold the Orange to 29 points Saturday. Dion Bailey and Morgan Breslin were difference-makers all game, but the Trojans' defensive backs were not. Monte Kiffin really needs to find a suitable second corner sometime soon.
Kyle Negrete averaged 50 yards on his three punts and downed all three inside the 20-yard line -- that's elite punting. Woods boosted the Trojans with a big second-half punt return, and walk-on kicker Alex Wood knocked down all five of his point-after attempts. This unit really helped USC today.
Lane Kiffin's playcalling was clearly not at its best, but he did enough in the fourth quarter to get things going. USC had its players take their pads off during the 70-minute delay, and that appeared to help keep them fresh late in the game. And he didn't go for two at all.