- Garry Paskwietz, Publisher, WeAreSC.com
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HONOLULU -- It was over when: USC safety Josh Shaw intercepted a Taylor Graham pass in the second quarter and returned it for a touchdown to make the score 17-5 in favor of the Trojans. USC had also intercepted Graham on the previous series, which led to a Cody Kessler touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. The Trojans didn’t allow Hawaii to score after the Shaw interception until a late touchdown and cruised to the 30-13 victory.
Game ball: Clancy Pendergast. The Trojans were hoping for instant improvement on defense with their new coordinator and they certainly got it in this game. The Trojans attacked from every angle to pressure Graham and swarm the Hawaii ballcarriers. The results showed in the stats; four turnovers, seven sacks and limiting the Warriors to 23 rushing yards on 31 attempts.
Stat of the game: The four interceptions by Graham. Hawaii did a good job of keeping USC's offense in check early in the game but the Warriors' offense was unable to capitalize in large part due to the picks. The Trojans scored 18 points off the interceptions, which turned out to be the key difference in the game.
Unsung hero: Dion Bailey. The former linebacker moved back to his high school position of safety in USC's new defensive scheme and the results were productive in the first game. Bailey had a sack on the opening play of the game, added a third-quarter interception deep in USC territory and led the team in tackles.
What USC learned: That there is work to be done on offense, particularly on the offensive line. There was an increased commitment to running the football -- USC ran the ball 45 times -- but if you take away three long runs of more than 20 yards they gained only 112 yards on the remaining 42 carries. The Trojans also converted just three of 14 third-down conversions.
What Hawaii learned: That there is also work to be done for the Warriors on offense. Norm Chow came to Hawaii with a well-deserved reputation as an offensive mind but his defense was the only reason Hawaii was able to keep this game as close as it was. The Warriors were basically even with the Trojans in total plays (USC 74, UH 72) so there was opportunity to do some damage but the offense was limited to a single field goal until a touchdown pass in the final minute.
1dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney