For Lane Kiffin and his team, the third time’s the charm: The Trojans routed the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors in their season opener, beating them 49-10. In his previous two season openers, Kiffin saw the Trojans struggle to pull of the victory, but this time USC left no doubt.
From the opening play of the game, USC’s offensive attack was relentless. Quarterback Matt Barkley heaved his first pass to Marqise Lee, who then torched Hawai’i for 75 yards and a touchdown. USC would continue to have its way with Hawaii, putting up 35 points and surrendering none, and earning 328 yards of total offense in the first half alone.
Hawaii never really got anything going, though their effort and heart was evident. Quarterback Scott Schroeder completed 25 of 40 passes and was picked twice, only leading his team to the endzone twice.
Barkley really spread the ball around as the game went on, with touchdown passes to Robert Woods, Randall Telfer, and Marqise Lee. Lee absolutely exploded in the season opener, with 190 receiving yards and an incredible 100-yard kick return run for a new career high of 292 all-purpose yards.
Barkley completed 23 of 38 passes for 377 yards and four TDs before he left the game and redshirt freshman Max Wittek, the newly-appointed back up, took over.
As prolific as the passing game was, USC’s ground game started off eerily similar to the way it did in 2011. We saw glimpses of it, but for the most part, it was quiet. Curtis McNeal only carried the ball five times for ten yards, and Silas Redd turned the ball over on what would have been a big run. Granted, he made up for it on the following drive with a 31-yard touchdown run, but his ball security will undoubtedly come into question next week.
Defensively, the Trojans stuttered a bit compared to the offense, but once they got into a rhythm they played much better than was expected. They gave up 244 yards, which is not great, but is a good start for this developing group.
Junior college transfer Morgan Breslin helped create a fumble recovery in the first quarter, and effectively helped smother Schroeder and the Warrior offense. True FR DT Leonard Williams aided in linebacker Hayes Pullard’s pick-six, and he brought down Schroeder hard in the second half for a sack. redshirt freshman defensive end Greg Townsend also recorded his first career sack early in the second quarter, and freshman linebacker Anthony Sarao added a sack of his own in the third. Late in the fourth, Florida transfer Josh Shaw picked off Schroeder for his first interception as a Trojan, showing a little bit of what we can expect from him in games to come.
As good as they were though, we did see many mental mistakes: the Trojans racked up eight penalties for 68 yards and the aforementioned Redd turnover. Kiffin was visibly displeased with both.
For USC, they needed these rookies to step up if the Trojans were to win big, and they delivered. The Trojans will close the first with of the 2012 season with a 1-0 record, with a dominating win over Hawai’i.