As the No. 1 team in the nation, the Trojans certainly did not disappoint in their 2012 debut. There were some miscues here and there but they were firing on all cylinders. Their 49-10 win over the Hawaii Warriors really wasn’t a close as the score would indicate and the score does not indicate a close game.
There were a few things that stuck out to me as I watched the game. I am a firm believer in the belief that defense win championships so I wanted to see what kind of defense the Trojans put on the field Saturday in the Coliseum. I took particular interest in the defensive line. A strong defensive line makes the game on the defensive side of the ball so much easier.
Wes Horton was a gameday scratch, so the Trojans put a defensive line on the field that had 0 starts between them and only a few that had playing experience at this level. The defensive line played outstanding delivering 5 of the 6 sacks the Trojans racked up on the day. Morgan Breslin, Greg Townsend Jr., George Uko, and Leonard Williams all contributed a sack. Breslin really stood out with his ability to play the run, his pass rush capability and his ability to also drop into coverage.
Hawaii’s QB, Sean Schroeder, took a beating on the day. When he wasn’t getting sacked, he was getting hit by 2 or 3 guys at the same time. The fumble that Schroeder coughed up, along with both INTs that he threw came as the result of getting hit or trying to avoid a hit.
Offensively, no one stood out more than Marqise Lee, who had 297 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns (10 rec for 197 1 TD, 1 KO return for 100 1 TD). His 75 yard TD reception on the first play from scrimmage and his 100 yard kickoff return showed the immense talent that Lee possesses. Lee most certainly will be the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week.
Aundrey Walker had a strong showing, replacing All-American Matt Kalil and protecting Matt Barkley’s blind side. Barley was never sacked and hit only a few times as the entire starting line did an outstanding job protecting him. Barkley was 23 of 38 for 372 yards and 4 TDs on the day, starting his Heisman campaign off on the right foot.
Penn State transfer Silas Redd showed his talent rushing for 56 yards on 9 carries, including a 31 yard run he took to the house. He also showed great ability in the passing game, taking a slant pass 41 yards but coughing the ball up at the end of his great run after catch.
While the defense played outstanding defensively, they showed some undisciplined play in the first half, causing the refs to continuously drop laundry on the field. It is one thing to get effort penalties but getting flagged for bad judgment or mental mistakes are unacceptable and need to be cleaned up going forward. These penalties will kill a team in a close contest.
I would have like to see more balance from the offense. Running the ball only 23 times compared to 41 pass attempts is not a great balance. There are 2 studs in the backfield that will be needed in games to come. Why not establish a physical mentality from game one? Running the ball in a blowout will also allow you to run more time off the clock, ending the game faster and lessening the possibility of unnecessary injuries.
I also didn’t like the fact that the starters played so late into the game. The Trojans went into halftime up 35-0. Typically in a blowout like that, the starters will play the first series of the 3rd quarter and give way to their backups. This keeps your starters healthy and gives your reserves some key game experience. Playing late in a blowout game caused starting linebacker Dion Bailey to leave the Coliseum on crutches. This is something that the Trojans can ill afford with reduced scholarships. They need every player on the field and healthy.
All and all this was a great opening game for the Trojans. It was great to see the defense fly around and swarm to the ball like we have become accustom to. Likewise, it was great to see the Trojans flex their offensive muscle. Now it is time to turn the page and get ready for the Syracuse Orange.