Mistake prone USC almost stumbled against Washington
(2-3, 0-2 Pac-10) at
Husky Stadium on Saturday night but managed to eke out a 27-24
victory in front of 68,654 fans. The Huskies reciprocated with their
own mistakes as well, in what otherwise could have been a major
upset over the number one team in the nation.
Although USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10)
floundered and sputtered with penalties and turnovers, its
magnificent defense made all the difference in the game, holding
Washington to just 190 total yards.
A lopsided time of possession,
34:51 to 25:09, kept UW's defense on the field for too much of the
game like last week's TOP, in UW's loss to UCLA. USC rushed for 223 yards and passed for 236 yards, using a
balanced attack that kept the Huskies on their heels.
Other than Mesphin Forrester's
54-yard interception return, Washington's longest scoring drive of
the night netted just 22 yards.
the ball over three times, had one punt blocked and was flagged 16
times for 161 yards in penalties. The raucous Husky crowd kept the
noise level high enough to create some motion penalties on behalf of
USC, and those along with the other penalties and mistakes were much to
coach Pete Carroll's chagrin. "We almost beat ourselves tonight, we
tried really hard...We were so horrible that it was hard to watch,"
he was quoted as saying.
It wasn't all USC's
horribleness, according to Washington Husky coach Tyrone Willingham,
"If I'm their coach I'm alarmed with that many penalties. But at the
same time I think our guys were playing and forcing some things. We
probably could have got - they had 16 penalties? - we probably could
have got 32 on just holding alone because I think our guys were
being aggressive and working and forcing them to do things." (gohuskies.com).
Fourth in the conference
in opponent penalties, the Huskies should be near the top of
that category when next week’s statistics are released.
Going into the game USC ranked
89th in the country in turnover margin. During the game,
USC turned the ball over 3 times and Washington did twice, the net
effect of which gives ‘SC a minus-3 debit in four games (minus-2
before), which works out to be minus-.75 on the year.
A USC turnover figured into the
first score of the game. In the second quarter, Erik Lobos recovered
a fumble on the USC 14 and, two plays later, UW QB Jake Locker was in the end
zone on a 10-yard run, to give UW a 7-0 lead.
knotted the score, 7-7, on a 6-play, 68-yard drive, QB John David
Booty connecting with Patrick Turner on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
The Trojans took a 14-7 lead
later in the quarter after an 8-yard TD run by Stafon Johnson that
culminated a 7-play, 88-yard drive. On the game, Johnson gained 123
yards on 14 carries.
Another Trojan turnover gave
Washington’s its next score, when Mesphin Forrester intercepted
Booty and took it 54 yards to the house -- a pick six -- to knot the
score at 14.
With sixteen seconds left on the
clock, David Buehler gave USC a 17-14 lead going into the locker
room on a 22-yard field goal.
USC widened its lead, 24-14, in
the third quarter on a 9-play, 60 yard drive, Chauncey Washington
rushing 23 yards for the score. On the night, Washington carried the
ball 21 times for 111 yards, a few of his runs being of the bulling
variety that either carried Washington tacklers with him or bowled
them completely over.
USC accumulated 224 yards on the
ground to Washington’s paltry 100 yards, with Locker’s feet
accounting for half of them. RB Louis Rankin netted just 39 yards on
Starting on the USC 43-yard
line, Washington drove to 22 yards to the USC 21, from where Ryan
Perkins connected with a 37-yard field goal. That made the score
24-17, USC, with 12:38 to go in the game.
With 7:04 to play, USC, clinging
to its 24-17, had to punt the ball away. Instead of signaling for a fair
catch, Anthony Russo gathered in the punt and, as he attempted to
run it back, USC’s Thomas Terrell stripped the ball away. Terrell
recovered the ball on the Huskies’ 43-yard line.
The Huskies managed to hold the
Trojans to a 31-yard field goal but trailed 27-17 with 4:04 on the
Washington RB Louis Rankin made
a nice return on the ensuing kickoff carrying the ball 37 yards to
the Husky 48.
Washington worked the ball to
the USC 40 yard line, where on a fourth and 16, Locker
completed a pass to Anthony Russo for what appeared to be a first
down. However, the officials ruled that Locker had thrown the ball
past the line of scrimmage; the ball went back to USC with 2:05
left on the clock and a 10-point lead.
Chauncey Washington netted 5 yards on 3 carries. UW called two
timeouts on the short drive, forcing USC to punt from its own
40. The Huskies’ Roy Lewis blocked Greg Woidneck’s punt and ran the
ball 18 back yards to the USC 9-yard line with 1:03 remaining.
Locker completed a 7-yard pass
to WR Marcel Reece on the USC 2-yard line and two plays later Locker was
in the end zone.
Trailing 27-24, Washington tried
an onside kick that was recovered by Terrell Thomas; USC ran out the
clock in the last 33 seconds.
-- Locker continued his erratic
passing by missing three open receivers in or near the end zone. He
was supposed to have worked on his passing accuracy over the summer
months by improving his footwork. Locker's pass efficiency on the
game was a horrible 66.29. Without a running game to give him more
time to throw on rhythm, it's too early in the young man's career to
say that his inaccuracy is a generic problem. Also, it rained during
the game and the ball was slippery. Booty didn't have that great a
night either. Locker told the media that he was releasing the ball
too high, which I tend to discount because the media put him on the
spot. He may have been playing hurt after taking a blow to the
shoulder after taking a late hit out of bounds in the early going.
-- Locker took a helmet to the
kidneys on one play and on another was hurled backwards by the
inside back of his shoulder pads. He landed on his back, with his helmet
bouncing off the field turf. It was the worst beating I've seen a UW
quarterback take since the beating Taylor Barton took at UCLA in
-- No offense; no running game,
no passing game.
-- Can 't someone other than
Louis Rankin run kickoffs back. Rankin is doing too much and needs
to be spelled off.
-- The Huskies held USC to its
smallest margin of victory since October 2005 at Notre Dame.
-- A heroic defensive effort,
despite being on the field for too much of the game.
-- Those throw-back jerseys,
which were worn to honor the 1960 team. In attendance, that team was
awarded the 1960 national championship by the Helms Athletic
Association after it beat number one Minnesota in the 1961 Rose Bowl.
-- Booty's pass efficiency was
105.74. He said the ball wasn't wet but that it was slippery.
-- On some of his runs, Locker
finished his runs by sliding on the field turf, which is the first
time this season he has done that.
-- The boisterous Husky crowd,
for the most part of which was in the game to the very end.
-- Locker's gameness. He took a
horrific beating in my estimation, especially by the blow to the
kidneys and the backwards tackle. A late hit out of bounds inflicted
on him drew a 15-yard, personal foul penalty early in the game.
-- Coach Willingham's smile,
which means he knows something that we don't. The coach is a winner
and will eventually recruit a championship team around Locker.
-- Two field goals by Ryan
Perkins, the gamest of the gamest.