Saturday, November 20, 2010
Postgame thoughts: Oregon State
By Pedro Moura
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Notes, quotes and video from USC's 36-7 loss to Oregon State on Saturday night at Reser Stadium:
After emphasizing all week the importance of not underestimating the Beavers, the Trojans did just that -- presenting perhaps their poorest performance of the 2010 season in the same, familiar locale in Oregon. Afterward, they admitted to succumbing to letting up the pressure a little bit, boasting two consecutive wins against the Arizona schools compared to Oregon State's consecutive losses to Pac-10 cellar-dwellers UCLA and Washington State. "I think we took them lightly," said USC left tackle Matt Kalil, who played poorly as the Trojan offensive line gave up four sacks. "And that's what happens if you don't take a team seriously -- they catch you off-guard like this. They got us today." Other players disagreed with Kalil, including defensive end Wes Horton and safety T.J. McDonald. But cornerback Shareece Wright had a telling quote when asked if USC took OSU lightly: "There are some players that probably did, but I didn't."
The difference in approaches to the game became glaringly obvious afterward, in speaking with players and coaches from USC and Oregon State. Take a look at the variation in comments about the teams' practice performances this week -- especially earlier on, when most of the play-installing and scouting gets done. USC's perspective, from Kalil: "It just goes back to practice, like Coach Kiff said. It was our worst Tuesday and our worst Wednesday practice, and it showed up." And Oregon State's, from coach Mike Riley: "That's what we asked everybody to do...Take advantage of Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday’s practice and get ready for the game. I’m really proud of them. They did a great job of overcoming a lot to get to that performance.” USC redshirt senior fullback Stanley Havili has talked up the correlation between practices and games over and over this season; he summed it up well postgame. See a video interview with him further down in this post for more.
Senior quarterback Mitch Mustain replaced Matt Barkley when the sophomore suffered a high-ankle sprain on the penultimate play of the first half. Taking his first meaningful snaps since his freshman year at Arkansas, Mustain didn't make many mistakes but didn't create any plays for the Trojans either -- completing 8-of-17 passes for 60 yards. Barkley hadn't been playing well either, going 10-of-19 for 75 yards, no touchdowns and a pick-six. Said Mustain of his day: "It felt good. I expected to come online a little bit quicker than what I did those first two drives, where I missed a couple of critical throws. It was really just a matter of getting my feet settled and feeling comfortable."
Jacquizz Rodgers did not run all over USC's defense. He gained 128 yards, but they were hard-earned ones, coming on 26 carries -- averaging out to fewer than five yards a carry. His best game against the Trojans remains the 2008 shocker here in Corvallis, when he ran for 186 yards and two scores. Said Wright: "He wasn't anything special."
On Rodgers, the junior runner offered some interesting perspective on why the Trojans can't manage to win a game in the state of Oregon, even bringing up the Beavers' cross-state rivals the Ducks in the process: “It’s been five years since SC has won in Oregon, including (games against) the Ducks," he said. "I guess they just struggle whenever they come up here. Guys get pumped up for that game even though we are supposed to approach every game the same. With the history SC has, guys are just looking to knock them off and make history against them.”
Injury updates: middle linebacker Chris Galippo started the game for USC but left with a concussion before the end of the first quarter, replaced for the duration of the game by Devon Kennard. Speaking coherently afterward, Galippo said he expects to be able to play next week against Notre Dame. Running back Marc Tyler got the start but barely got started before he got hurt and had to exit the game with a re-injury of the sprained ankle that was also bothering him against Arizona. He finished the game with 34 yards on 11 carries. Right tackle Tyron Smith hurt his knee and did not finish the game.
Final notes: Freshman running back Dillon Baxterdid not make the trip up to Oregon because of contact with a student-agent at USC on Thursday. USC self-reported the violation and is hoping the NCAA will reinstate Baxter in time for him to play in the Trojans' final two games. ...The score at halftime of the 2008 game between the Trojans and Beavers in Corvallis? 21-0. Saturday's halftime score? 20-0. ...C.J. Gable led USC in rushing yards with 57 on 10 carries and also scored the Trojans' only touchdown.
See what Havili had to say after the game about the Beavers' all-around performance, USC's inability to win in the state of Oregon and more: