USC vs. Notre Dame vs. Adoree’

USC vs. Notre Dame
November 26, 2016 at 12:42pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 72,402 (93,607)
Total Time: 3 hours 39 minutes

The legendary intersectional rivalry notched another in the series. Like usual, the Trojans and Fighting Irish play following Thanksgiving every even year. And it was raining, just like 6 years ago when Notre Dame ended an 8-game losing streak to USC off the uncharacteristic drop suffered by RoJo. A different RoJo took the field on Saturday and his Trojan team delivered a different result.

A Notre Dame team entered the game with an unappealing 4-7 record. However, every single one of their seven losses had been by one possession (8 points or less). I’m not trying to tell you that they should’ve entered at 11-0 or excusing them for their losses. All I’m saying is that they’re probably a bit better than their record would indicate. Then USC proceeded to beat them by three possessions even after the Irishs’ garbage time touchdown.

The win painted a perfect backdrop for the annual senior day on an otherwise rare rainy LA day (sarcastically referred to as “perfect football weather” by more than a few Trojan fans). Most of us were expecting it, but not during the first quarter. The ACC officials present at the game seemed intent to aid the ill-weather in every way possible by dragging the game out. In the end, I’m not sure if the fans cheered louder when the sun peeked out over the horizon or for Adoree’ Jackson’s multitude of touchdowns. Just kidding, we know what got the louder cheer. Not everything was exciting fun and games though. The beginning of the game looked quite sloppy.

After a quick field goal by USC to start, the Fighting Irish caught a safety out of position and ran for 74 yards. Adoree’ Jackson managed chase him out-of-bounds short of the score remnisicent of his performance against Alabama. RoJo answered a few minutes later with a 51-yard touchdown run to get to the score to 10-7.

The next quarter and half was basically a soccer match. Seven punts and missed field goal with four possessions apiece. Then the excitement built up over!!…questionable reffing decisions….

I’m not even sure what they called on DeShone Kizer’s lateral fumble. I was at the stadium and didn’t hear jack squat. I rewatched the broadcast and still can’t tell why they decided to call it dead at the ND 8-yard line.

  • Was it an incomplete pass? We would’ve heard a whistle and it’d be 2nd-and-10 instead of 2nd-and-23.
  • Was it an intentional ground? Sure that’d get the 2nd-and-23 with loss of down at the spot of the foul, but the running back was right there and got his hands on it boefre it fell to the ground.
  • Foward progress stopped? Again, why no whistle? On the very next play, the whistle can be heard quite clearly.

Then two plays later, they cancel out a safety just because the official felt like he wasn’t backed up far enough when that kind of thing happens all the time. He was an adequate distance away and had already turned around to face the play.

In the second half, I thought I had an onset of Déjà vu when the refs blew a fumble dead as an incomplete pass, nullifying the touchdown return by Jack Jones. Why not just let him complete the return and review it after that? Instead they make the strange decision to whistle it dead after Jones has run 10-15 yards down the field. At least they got the turnover part fixed on the review. Great play by Ajene Harris and Jack Jones though to give it a chance to happen at all. Harris had to fight through two blockers to make that tip and Jones had the awareness and skill to grab that instantly in middle of his stride.

The last of the egregiously bad calls was during the nasty 28 on 28 hit. Aca’cedric Ware took a helmet shot from ND safety, Nicco Fertitta. Instead of calling the obvious targeting penalty and ejecting Fertitta, they call it a fumble by Ware. Oh, okay, fumbles are a thing now? After a review, they still think it’s a fumble with no targeting. It took them a second review before disqualifying Fertitta and reversing the fumble. Only took two reviews and 10 minutes guys. It took them two tries to flag Jerry Tillery for personal fouls too.

Wish you the best Ron Cherry, but your crew really didn’t do that well this game. That official team dragged it out to be the longest of the season—longest of two season actually. The last time a USC football game took that long was the 2014 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska going nearly 4 hours (3:55). That being said, get well soon Cherry, because your job performance doesn’t make you deserving of a concussion.

Some penalties were deserved though. USC got penalized for roughing the kicker, turning a three-and-out into a first down. USC lucked out with ND missing the field goal. It wasn’t a block though, so no free Chick-Fil-A. Sad times. You tried to give us free chicken Pittman, but it didn’t work. Next time, please don’t give them free possessions with penalties.These kinds of things could’ve been a big deal if the game was closer. The penalties weren’t their only problem.

It’s hard to imagine a game this season where Sam Darnold didn’t get the spotlight. He had a relatively pedestrian game, suffering inaccurate passes in the rain. The bright side is that he didn’t produce any turnovers.

Unfortunately, the star of the game ended up being the one to turn it over. Adoree’ fumbled it on a punt return, making it emotionally painful since it was the start of a possession change. Much like the roughing the kicker penalty, it was after a three-and-out.

Can’t be too harsh on Adoree’ when he scored as much as the entire ND team by the end of the third quarter. All three of his touchdowns spanned over 50 yards:

  • A 55-yard punt return, showing that they don’t need no stinking 2 point safety. He’ll take 6, thank you.
  • A 52-yard reception because he wanted to make Darnold look good too.
  • A 97-yard kickoff return that might’ve been the backbreaker for Notre Dame. It featured a high jump (I thought he was trying to qualify for long jump?) and a key block by Isaac Whitney for Adoree’ to take it to the house. As a bonus, kicker Matt Boermeester had a monster tackle on the ensuing kickoff earning the cheers of his teammates.

Adoree’ is the MVP of the game, no dispute.

One more good thing:

  • Ajene Harris’ pick six 17 seconds after Adoree’ Jackson’s punt return TD. In 17 seconds, USC went from a 3-point lead to a 17-point lead. Not a bad way to end the half. Reminds me of the Arizona State game in 2015.

CommBro Breaker

The regular season has ended with USC at 9-3 (7-2 in Pac-12). Utah’s loss cemented Colorado’s place as Pac-12 South champion, meaning USC just has to sit and wait for a bowl bid now. Not the worst thing in the world since USC can still get a NY6 bowl bid like the Cotton Bowl or even the Rose Bowl (if Washington is selected for the playoff and the Rose Bowl Committee selects USC over Colorado). Personally, I’d rather have the Rose Bowl for so many reasons.

  • Joey Kaufman over at the OC Register, among others, have pointed out that, “Since 1929, the Trojans have appeared in the Rose Bowl during the term of every U.S. President except Barack Obama.” It would be mighty great for them to sneak one in at the twilight of Obama’s second term.
  • It would also continue USC’s streak of at least one Rose Bowl in every decade since 1920. They have yet to get one in the 2010s.
  • It’s also easier to travel to than the Cotton Bowl game (which isn’t at the Cotton Bowl anymore). Guess where it is now. AT&T Stadium. As cool as that place is, I’d rather use my money to see new locations

Good Stat of the Week: USC has won eight streak games.The Trojans have not lost at home this season and extends their home winning streak to nine, spanning over the 2015 and 2016 season.

Ultimate Misleading Stat of the Week: Notre Dame has won ZERO conference championships, meaning USC has about 38 more than them.

Hard to win conference championships when you’re not in a conference. Notre Dame has always been independent, though they do have one foot in the ACC at this point.

Edit: How could I forget? USC completed a no loss November for the first time since 2011!!

USC vs. Cal: Running to Win a Fight

Cal vs. USC
October 31, 2015 at 12:00pm
Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium: 52,060 (of 62,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes

USC rises to 5-3 and Cal drops to 5-3 overall after a match that was probably too close for comfort. There was nothing really flashy about it, but the 27-21 win was nothing to scoff at.

Sure, Cal has been kind of Pac-12 cellar dweller for the past few seasons. In the previous three, they combined for only nine wins—the same as USC had in 2014. However, that does not tell the story of their upward trajectory. One thing’s for sure: this isn’t the Cal or the Pac of years past.

Cal started the season 5-0 before falling to then #5 Utah. Despite Goff throwing 5 interceptions and six total turnovers, Cal managed to be in a position to drive down the field at the end, threatening to score for the win. It took a 4th down stop by Utah with 30 seconds left to seal the game. Had they managed their drive against both Utah and USC, they’d be staring down at you with a 7-1 record.

UCLA was in the same position against an actual cellar dweller the past weekend. Although Colorado sits at just a single conference win, they were a lucky bounce or two away from taking down Arizona and UCLA. That’s just the nature of the conference at this point. What I’m trying to say is, you should take this conference win and be happy.

Considering that some people thought we wouldn’t have any more wins after that Washington loss, things are looking pretty good. One more win until bowl eligibilty, four more wins and a Utah loss for a Pac-12 South championship. Speaking of Utah, there was also no post-big game letdown this weekend.

Coming into the game, Cal was scoring an average of almost 38 points per game. Take out that 73 point smackdown against Grambling State and Cal was still averaging 32 points against FBS opponents. USC’s defense held them to 21 points, which is a season low for Cal. It’s also only the fourth time they’ve been held to 21 or fewer points in 21 games. Okay, that was a cherry-picked stat. I’m sorry, I’ll save that for those for the CommBro Breakers. I just wanted to make it 21 without busting.

I might have been misleading when I said there was nothing flashy. Adoree’ Jackson’s 46-yard interception return could qualify. Amazingly enough, it was his first career interception at USC. Furthermore, it finally completes the trinity of touchdowns for Jackson: offense, special teams, and defense. His return was sprung by a couple of good blocks, including two by Chris Hawkins. In the end, he traveled quite a bit more than the listed 46 yards after weaving back and forth through traffic. Meanwhile I had trouble moving 1 yard to get out of bed this morning.

The ridiculous fumble recovery by Leon McQuay III. It looked like one of those cliche moments in film/TV shows where someone gets a football dropped into their hands and everyone piles onto him/her.

Just mentally swap the uniform colors

Just mentally swap the uniform colors

Luckily, it was a positive thing in this situation. Another positive was while the defense was out there creating turnovers, the offense managed not to turn the ball over for the second week in a row.

The Trojans are currently tied for #1 in fumbles and tied for #3 in fumbles lost. Not bad for a team that has tried to run so much recently. The USC offense run-pass balance (50-23) fell heavily in favor of the run game, spending over 68% of their plays rushing the football. All the running made this the shortest game of the season so far. As fun as it is to watch USC Football games, I don’t need games dragging on for three and a half hours so I’ll take it. Just keep winning and I’d be completely fine with every run out of the I-formation or something. The Trojans controlled the clock throughout, holding onto the ball over 11 minutes more than the Golden Bears—almost giving Jared Goff enough time to save money on his car insurance.

The tough running at the end inspired a lot of confidence in the team. Two of the team’s six 3rd down conversions came off run plays in the final drive. The team’s second touchdown off a 4th-and-1 at the Cal 2-yard line was another great example of the improvement.

The penalty department wasn’t great this game, as the Trojans got penalized 6 times for 65 yards. Two were from the offensive line, breaking their streak after a penalty-free game against Utah. Both were on Zach Banner after his switch back to right tackle. Hopefully, this does not persist.

CommBro Breaker

Stats are fun and stops me from ending on a negative note. Don’t read too much into it. This isn’t baseball.

USC (#34, 21.6 ppg) is almost identical in scoring defense to Utah (#32, 21.4 ppg) Stanford (#33, 21.5 ppg). These three teams are #2,3 and 4 in Pac-12 scoring defense.

Top Stats:

#2 in defensive touchdowns per game (0.5)
#3  Completion Percentage (70.3%)
#6  Yards Per Pass Attempt (9.5/att)
#8 in opponent 4th down conversions (3/12, 25%)

Misleading Stats of the Week:

The Trojans are #1 in kickoff return touchdowns allowed! (Too bad they are tied with 94 other teams with zero allowed.)

But sadly they are #113 in kickoff return yards allowed. They allowed 790 yards!!! WOW THEY SUCKNOT. In reality, only four teams in the nation have had more opponent kickoff returns than USC’s 42. This is probably a combination of USC scoring a lot and Alex Wood kicking it towards the front of the end zone. The special teams has decent kickoff coverage, ranking #24 in average yards allowed per kickoff return (18.81).

USC vs. Notre Dame: Another Coach, Another Emerald

Notre Dame vs. USC
October 17, 2015 at 4:30pm
Notre Dame Stadium: 80,795 (of 80,795)
Total Time: 3 hours 23 minutes

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An empty trophy case. Another emerald for the Shillelagh.

The greatest intersectional rivalry in college football was a competitive and exciting match-up…for three quarters. At least the Trojans didn’t lay down and die after the Irish took the 24-10 lead. That’s already improvement in and of itself. Kind of like opening a Pringles can and seeing it’s not half empty. Don’t you dare make a joke about how it’s half full.

Through some deception and amazing feats by Adoree’ Jackson, USC pulled themselves back into a tie. The forced fumble by Jackson saved the defense from giving up another score down at the goal line. Next, Helton reused a well-designed trick play of Cody Kessler throwing a lateral to Jalen Greene, who then threw finally to Juju Smith in the endzone. That play gave USC some momentum and life after a first quarter lull. On the next Trojan possession, Jackson struck again on a screen pass, taking it 83 yards for the touchdown.

They even had a chance to take the lead before the end of the half. However, Alex Wood’s 36-yard field goal veered left and bounced off the upright, leaving the halftime score at 24-24. Maybe I jinxed it in my last post by saying that the special teams would be next to fail. Along with the missed field goal, the Trojans allowed the Irish to block a punt and return it for a touchdown. The twist of the knife was that it was scooped up by former Trojan running back, Amir Carlisle. The first line of the punt team left seven Notre Dame special teamers unblocked, allowing them to reach the 3-man wall unimpeded. It’s not something that happens for Notre Dame reguarly. According to the NBC broadcast, it was the first punt block by Notre Dame in five years. Those two special teams mistakes alone accounted for 10 points. The Trojans only lost by 10 points, by the way.

As bad as those two plays were, special teams cannot be singled out. The offense and defense both had their share of struggles. Both of them probably did worse in the second half than the first. Beyond the first touchdown on the first drive of the half, USC’s offense could not score in the second half. Perhaps electing to receive the first half every game shows a lack of commitment to adjustments.

With or without adjustments, the Trojans were getting in their own way with 10 penalties for 105 yards. Five of those penalties came from the offensive. There would’ve been a sixth on Chad Wheeler for holding, but it was declined in favor of a fourth down stop. Three of them were false starts (Talamaivao, Wheeler, Banner), one was holding (Banner), and the last was a personal foul (Lobendahn) for hands to the face. The offensive line continues to a penalty factory.

Two offensive linemen alone account for 5 penalties each. It may not sound like much, but with 45 penalties on the season, each accounts for 11.11% of the team’s penalties. In total, the offensive line has been flagged 17 times for 160 yards. That is 37.8% of the team’s penalties and 36.6% of the team’s penalty yardage. That isn’t even counting the negated potential yards of the plays nor is it counting the penalties that were declined. Combining these issues with not giving Kessler enough time on most plays, the Trojans stall out of so many drives.

No USC drive this season lasting 10 or more plays ended in a touchdown. USC’s average touchdown drive lasts for 1:56 in 5.45 plays for 66.76 yards.Yet, they cannot score a touchdown in a 2-minute drill. When trying to score a touchdown in the final minutes against Stanford, Washington, and Notre Dame, USC looked sloppy and were unable to come away with anything. Each of those drives were chock full of penalties, sacks, and no completions. In those 31 plays, USC only managed to get five plays over 10 yards and one play over 20 yards. This Trojan offense lives and dies by the explosive play—and in those three final drives, they certainly died without an athletic play to bail them out.

If you can’t depend on the offense to score consistently, then you need to depend on the defense to make stops more consistently. That’s not happening either. Notre Dame’s starting quarterback and running back have been out for the season, but nobody said anything, it might’ve been hard to notice. After Malik Zaire (QB, fractured ankle) and Tarean Folston (RB, torn ACL) went down with injuries, DeShone Kizer and C.J. Prosise picked up right where they left off. Kizer threw for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for another 47 yards. Prosise carried the ball for 143 yards and his very own pair of touchdowns.

The defense had some occasional stops on the Notre Dame defense, but ultimately, they still allowed the Irish to score 34 points (not counting the punt block return). It was sad to see that two corners had to resort to pass interference to stop potential touchdown receptions. For some plays the defensive backs got beat and other times it was perfectly placed passes that were near indefensible. The Trojans also had trouble stopping the runin the second half of the game. In the end, it comes back down to the defensive line not being able to penerate the offensive line. The sacks that the Trojans did pick up were coverage sacks. Lots of missed tackles also allowed Irish players to slip out for huge chunks of yardage. Fans want to blame scheme, front 7 talent, player development, or game preparation. At this point, it’s hard to tell which is the biggest issue, as it’s likely some combination of all of these.

Regardless of whether or not the Trojans can fix everything up for the rest of the season, they are stuck at a 3-3 record for the first six games of the season. The last Trojan team to have three losses through six games was in 2001, Pete Carroll’s first season. They were 2-4 before finishing the season on a 4-2 run.

CommBro Breaker

I could go on forever about the negatives I see about this team, but I’ll let other people say it for me. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m unreasonably negative or anything like that. Take these positives and maybe have a drink…just as long as it’s not too much:

Two plays Ronald Jones’ big 65-yard run, the Trojans did something unfamiliar (at least for the past 2 years). My mind was blown—in a good way. The play started out with a huddle. Then Kessler lined up under center with a fullback behind him in (22 personnel) and finished with a play action pass to tight end, Taylor McNamara. It really made me miss all those aspects in our offense.

In addition, the downfield blocking continues to be a bright spot on this offense. The offensive line and especially the receivers get to the second level and more. One standout among standouts is Deontay Burnett. He followed the play and managed to level someone on Jones’ 65-yard run. If you go back to the video above, he’s #80 at about the 2:09 mark. Burnett contributed in the passing game as well, with catches of 19, 28, and 6 yards. His performance in this game better have earned him more playing time!

Misleading Stat of the Week: 

USC has scored exactly 31 points and allowed exactly 41 points against teams that are currently ranked in week 8 of the AP and Coaches polls.
Context: USC only played two teams that are still ranked. Not much of a sample size.

USC is rank #3 in the nation in fumbles. USC players have only fumbled 4 times.
Context: USC is #118 in rushing attempts with only 198 attempts. Even air raid, pass happy Washington State has almost as many as the Trojans with 143 attempts.

Depressing Stat of the Week: USC is rank #98 in penalties per game at 7.5 and is rank #115 in opponent penalties per game at 4.67 per game. The 2.8 penalties per game differential is the 3rd highest differential in the nation. Only TCU (3.7) and San Diego State (2.9) are worse. That would land the Trojans at #126.

Ball State, on the other hand, has the highest negative differential. They average 3.9 less penalties than their opponents per game.

USC vs. ASU: Adidas-Not Even Once

ASU vs. USC
September 26, 2015 at 7:30pm
Sun Devil Stadium: 61,904
Total Time: 3 hours 8 minutes

I don’t think anybody was that coming. Las Vegas oddsmakers expected a 4-point Trojan win. Maybe they meant to say a 4 touchdown win.

If you told someone the Trojans were gonna pitch a first half shut out—especially following that defensive performance against Stanford—they totally would’ve thought you were hard trolling.

ASU was largely considered to be a contender in the Pac-12 South during the preseason. Sure, they had a rough outing against Texas A&M. Then those two option heavy teams in Cal Poly and New Mexico gave them trouble at first, but they managed to get those wins. It was difficult to gauge where they were at from these three games. In fact, we still can’t really evaluate enough. They could bounce back and take out some other Pac-12 team. Many people counted Stanford after their excrutiating loss to Northwestern…

Don’t get too comfortable with this win though. Just look at what UCLA and Utah managed to do in their conference matchups. Utah did to Oregon, what Oregon used to do to them. And wow, look at me. I’m doing exactly what the commentators did at the start of the second half: chatting about every other game that had happened in the nation other than the one I’m supposed to follow.

Back to USC…I’d be stupid to say I wasn’t impressed or satisfied with a blowout win—or just a win in general. This was also USC’s first win in Tempe since 2009. However, the Trojans still had their fair share of mistakes this game. Without all the extra help from ASU miscues, this game could’ve been a lot closer.

If you were wondering whether the Trojans could pick up more flags than last week, they gave you an answer. They outdid their previous 8 with 10 penalties for 91 yards. On the other side, ASU had 2 for 25. Some were extremely costly despite the small amount of yardage. An offside penalty on third down ended up gifting ASU a first down. A pass interference on fourth down was even worse. There was also a baffling offside penalty on Iman Marshall. When’s the last time you heard of a non-blitzing corner get called for that. It got declined though—because he picked up a personal foul later that play.

USC had more flags than this store. Probably.

USC had more flags than this store. Probably.

The defense also still had trouble stopping the run. Furthermore, there were occasions that tight ends were wide open in middle of the field. Ultimately, some great defensive plays and a little bit of bad luck on ASU’s part made it moot.

We must credit the Trojanswith improvement though. ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici looked uncomfortable the entire night. A lot of pressure provided on linebacker blitzes forced errant passes. At some point, I’m not sure what was creeping up more, the linebackers up to the line, or the midriff line of the Song Girls’ tops.

Seriously though. (Photo credit: Screenshot of ESPN broadcast)

Seriously though. (Photo credit: Screenshot of ESPN broadcast)

Adoree’ Jackson was also afforded with a few snaps on offense—and he utilized them fully. He led the team in receiving yards despite only having three catches. Nobody can say he didn’t earn those yards. Kessler threw short passes to him and he made plays in space. He is too good to not play on offense…

Jackson tacked on punt returns of 8 and 45 yards, to bring up his all-purpose yards to 184. If you do that math, he netted the team about 36.8 yards every time he touched the ball. Sadly, his 45-yard punt return with the added facemask penalty was wasted by a turnover.

Kessler’s fumble near the goal line and interception during the first drive were USC’s first two turnovers of the season. Luckily, the team had four takeaways to end it with a positive turnover margin. Unfortunately, both of USC’s turnovers happened in the red zone.

Again, these mistakes ended up not mattering in this game. Kessler more than redeemed himself. On one particular play, he avoided two would be sacks on third down to toss it off to Justin Davis for the first down. The offense he led is now averaging 8.06 yards per play, which is good for #3 in the nation. Third down conversion was phenomenal as well. Not only was their pre-garbage time third down conversion percentage great, but they managed to convert some longer ones.

ASU’s plan seemed to set on shutting down USC’s run game. I think they did a commendable job with that. They were also able to sack Kessler a couple of times. Too bad the passing game answered with big play after big play.

Remember how ASU was able to score 3 touchdowns in under four minutes without getting onside kicks and no timeouts? USC had their own version at the end of the second half. USC was up 14-0 with less then 4 minutes until halftime. If I had stepped out to take a phone call or something, I would’ve thought ESPN messed up the score again. 35-0? What?

When it looked like ASU was going to score, Delvon Simmons shot through a gap and hit the running back during the exchange. The resulting turnover was remniscent of another USC safety playing on the road.

Then the kickoff returner, De’Chavon Hayes, hesitated, but decided to take it out of the endzone anyway? Clown move, bro. Bad enough to start at the 5-yard line, but to tack on a fumble?

Maybe it’s a curse for switching to Adidas. If it is, I hope UCLA gets the same Adidas curse.

At the close of the game, USC’s offense ranks #8 in points per game. The defense ranks #25 in points allowed per game (tied with Alabama). Not a terrible position to be in, but they must continue to improve. They will face three teams in the current AP top 10 later in the schedule: #6 Notre Dame, #10 Utah, and #7 UCLA.

CommBro Breaker

What’s interesting is that Sark got it right about two teams, it seems.

Whatever pill Sark had at the Salute to Troy event, it must’ve given him prophetic abilities. Maybe it was one of those NZT-48 limitless pills from the show we kept seeing commercials about. No wonder he would keep that a secret from the media. Time to see if Notre Dame lives up to Sark’s prophecy.

Misleading Stats of the Week:

ASU outscored USC in the second half by double.

USC only outgained ASU by 1 yard.

USC is now first place in the Pac-12
[South]

USC vs. Idaho: Vandalized Stat Sheet

USC vs. Idaho
September 12, 2015 at 5:00pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 72,422
Total Time: 3 hours 18 minutes

USC gets a nice primetime slot for week two despite a less than stellar matchup. Too bad it was on the Pac-12 Network for the second week in a row—Sorry DirecTV customers!

As USC runs through what seems like the entire Sun Belt conference, they averaged 57 points and 7.5 points allowed per game. Those numbers will fall back to more realistic levels as the Trojans face conference foes.

Again, there’s not too much that you can extrapolate from the team’s play at this point of the season. Some of the big things are:

  1. The kicking game. Another kickoff out of bounds?
  2. Adoree’ finding out when to call for a fair catch.
  3. The defense needs to figure out what they’re doing for the first drive of the third quarter.

All of that stuff is kind of negative, so let’s take a look at everything else instead.

Although Adoree’ Jackson played sparingly on offense, all but one of his offensive touches went for first downs. The single play that wasn’t got only 8 yards. Take a look at the highlight of one of his plays below:

His catch and run at the 1:33 mark of the video shows what this crazy man can do. The Idaho defense took almost 20 seconds to bring him down despite Adoree’ coming to a complete stop at one point.

Kind of reminds me of this run…

Jackson may need to be a bit more conservative on special teams though. If someone sprinkled in some bad luck, the jump from last week and the fair catch no-calls this week could’ve ended up being disastrous, momentum-changing moments. Even if potential injuries don’t scare him, fumbles are still a thing.

Another receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, had a career night with a 192 yard, 2 TD performance. He tops the team in all-purpose yards—both in total yards and yards per game….even though all he does is catch. But what was with that penalty? I would never have expected Smith-Schuster to get unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Yet, there it was, a 15-yard variety after Idaho scored their first and only touchdown.

Luckily, Cody Kessler and the offense responded quickly in the ensuing 6 play, 1:37 drive. After doing a short dump off, Kessler completed five straight passes of 10+ yards to get the touchdown. It was as if the fight song never stopped playing.

Kessler finished the night with 410 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and only 2 more incompletions than touchdowns. Even more notable was that he completed two passes that were thrown for over 20 yards. This was a good sign considering how the main criticism from last week was him missing deep throws.

Kessler’s 7-0 touchdown-interception ratio is the best in the nation at this point. Three quarterbacks have more touchdowns, but also have more interceptions:

Seth Russell (Baylor) 9-4
Matt Johnson (Bowling Green) 8-1
Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) 8-1

Unfortunately, no USC running back is close to being at the top of a national stat chart. However, that speaks more of the running back depth than the ineptitude of play. The Trojans allowed all five of their scholarship running backs some carries and were vindicated with five rushing touchdowns. The group had 29 carries for 248 yards, averaging 8.55 per rush. When including the walk-ons, it still comes out to 35 carries for 285 yards averaging 8.14 per rush. When you can run like that, you can do anything you want.

Out of all the running backs, true freshman Ronald Jones II was the one that stood out the most. He had some good runs between the tackles and broke some longer runs. Late in the second quarter, Jones’ 31 yard touchdown run was nullified by a holding call on Max Tuerk. That run likely would not have been sprung if not for the holding, so it was a legit penalty. During the fourth quarter, however, it was like some kind of sick game for the officials. How many times can they deny Ronald Jones II of touchdowns? Even after a review, they wouldn’t give him a 45-yard touchdown run. Instead, they called it a 44-yard run with Jones going down at the 1-yard line. Sad times. Your Pac-12 officials at work.

Overall, the USC offense compiled a nasty 737 yards of total offense. The last time they got even close to that was when Leinart, Bush, and the 2005 USC team destroyed Arkansas with 70 points and 736 yards. Times have certainly changed.

The defense played decently for most of the game. A couple of rookie mistakes led to some big gains and scores from the Idaho offense. I say, let them have it. How many of you guys can even name the Idaho starting QB even after seeing that game? I already forgot his name…Poor guy.

There were some things like the pass intereference penalty and corners, linebackers, and safeties getting caught out of position. With so much youth on the roster, these things should be solved as time goes on.

CommBro Breaker

I bet all of you wanted a bunch of potato jokes and puns, but I won’t deliver. Pretty much every place that serves french fries doesn’t deliver. HAH. Okay, it stops there. And you guys wonder why their mascot is the Vandals? I would become one too being the butt end of so many jokes about my state. Instead, let these useless stats fill up your head. One day, while you’re taking your exams, you won’t be able to remember what Grice’s Maxims are, but you will remember these useless week two stats about USC. What’s that? You didn’t know what Grice’s Maxims were in the first place? Should have been a comm major.

Completely pointless stat: USC has as many first downs as points per game (57).

Misleading stat of the week: USC has stopped 100% of points after touchdowns
Context: USC has only allowed two touchdowns so far this season. Arkansas State failed to convert their 2-point conversion and Idaho’s kick was blocked by Claude Pelon.

 

Old Stuff

USC vs. Ark St.: More Complaints than Analysis