USC: Scott Harding
September, 1, 2012
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Here are notes and quotes from USC's 49-10 win over Hawaii on Saturday that won't make it into our other coverage of the game.
Defensive line takes criticism to heart
Ed Orgeron is loud. He can also be quite convincing.
And the USC defensive line coach convinced his defensive linemen Saturday they were being disrespected in college football circles. They responded with an inspired performance in USC's season opener.
Considering that they were without two of their four projected starters six weeks ago in Devon Kennard and Wes Horton, the linemen actually played quite well. Antwaun Woods played solid two-down football throughout the game, and Leonard Williams, Morgan Breslin and George Uko all proved adept at reaching the quarterback. J.R. Tavai did his job.
According to Woods and several other USC defenders, their play can be traced to Orgeron's pregame speech that got them so fired up.
"They really bonded today, pregame," starting linebacker Anthony Sarao said. "I didn't really see that during camp, but tonight, they definitely bonded."
Defensive captain T.J. McDonald said the linemen were "mad" after talking to Orgeron, and he said they "stayed mad" all game.
"There was some criticism," McDonald said. "And they knew that. They had a big chip on their shoulder knowing that they were supposedly a big weakness on this team."
Supposedly might be right. USC's linemen had four sacks on their own -- a figure the Trojans reached as a team only three times last season.
And it wasn't as if Hawaii was effective running the ball, either. USC allowed just 56 yards in 32 carries, an average of just 1.7 yards.
"People talked about the D-line being our weakness," Sarao said. "They were out there doing their thing tonight."