Sunday, October 5, 2008

No Ducking it! Trojans drub Oregon 44-10

Sticking to the script, the opponent that follows an upset loss suffers the wrath of the Trojans. Saturday’s victim was the 23rd ranked Oregon Ducks. And though they tried to compete for a quarter, this one was a forgone conclusion.

There was an unsettling feeling in the first quarter, as Oregon marched down field on their first possession to score the games first touchdown. And it was a feeling that worsened when they drove a second time to add 3 more points. USC was trailing 10-3, and some were probably having a week of flashbacks. But if you watched the game closely, there was a tremendous difference between the early drives of the Ducks, in comparison to the victorious drives of the Beavers. The 10 points posted on the board were all assisted by Trojans penalties. First, a roughing the kicker call against Clay Matthews gave Oregon a fresh set of downs in the red zone, leading to the first 7. The second (roughing the passer), on third and long, extended a drive for the next 3.

After coming out overly aggressive, the defense calmed and yellow flags were fewer. The end result, the Trojans roll off 41 unanswered points in a 44-10 victory. In the process, a defense playing without Rey Maualuga, Shareece Wright, and using a banged up Brian Cushing, limited the Pac 10’s best rushing attack (4th in the nation) to a total of 60 yards. Offensively, USC torched a very good secondary for 443 yards through the air. As the game moved on, it became more apparent that the Oregon cheerleaders were very attractive, but the Ducks’ gameplan wasn’t. Look past the early penalties, and it was clearly a mismatch from the opening kick.

In a scary moment of the third quarter, Mark Sanchez appeared to re-injure his left knee, after a horse collar tackle for a sack. After lying on the field for several minutes, Sanchez’ day was done. Preliminary reports state that he was protected by the precautionary brace he's been wearing since the dislocation of his kneecap in August, preventing any damage from his leg being pinned and twisted beneath the defender. He watched the fourth quarter from the sidelines with ice on the left knee, but didn’t give the appearance of a limp or hobble after the game.

Mitch Mustain, suddenly moved back into the role of USC’s No. 2 quarterback, played the entire 4th quarter. He gave a glimpse of why there was so much excitement in his transferring to Southern Cal from Arkansas, with a perfectly thrown 59 yard touchdown pass to David Ausberry, hitting him in stride near the right sideline.

These are the types of victories the Trojans need for the rest of the season. Because now, more than ever, style points count. And there’s no rest for the wicked, as USC now prepares for the invading Sun Devils on Saturday.

Fight On!

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