Thursday, October 13, 2011
By Pedro Moura
Despite Cal's well-examined secondary issues heading into the game, Matt Barkley was never able to pick apart the Bears' defensive backs. USC's best pass plays were more a result of impressive moves by Marqise Lee than anything else. And this was Robert Woods' worst game of 2011.
Curtis McNeal was great, but he didn't make as much of an impact as he could have because he didn't get any carries until the second quarter. Marc Tyler had his second straight subpar game; George Farmer and the other running backs were non-factors.
IN THE TRENCHES
USC's offensive line was just average. The defensive line got more pressure than it has over the last few weeks, and Cal quarterback Zach Maynard was definitely forced into making some throws he didn't want to make. But the Trojans still have to produce more sacks.
USC produced five turnovers in this game after forcing five in the first five games. Maybe it's on a slight curve, but that's pretty much an automatic 'A.' And the Trojans' run defense was very, very good against a solid runner in Cal's Isi Sofele.
Andre Heidari continues to impress as a freshman kicker, moving his numbers to 10-of-11 on field-goal attempts for the season with his three conversions Thursday. USC's coverage units were fine apart from Marvin Jones' 37-yard punt return in the third, which kick-started Cal.
Defensive play-calling was the best it's been all season, and a lot of the offensive decisions made sense. But Lane Kiffin's decision to go for it on fourth down on USC's first drive could have cost the Trojans against a better team. Why play Amir Carlisle again?