The Trojans entered the game with Colorado with a few benchmarks that needed to be checked off before looking ahead to a daunting stretch to end the season. They wanted to get the passing game in order, get reps for the second and third team, break records at home if they could, and do it all without showing too many of their cards. Lane Kiffin’s squad not only routed the Colorado Buffaloes 50-6 at the Coliseum, they did so almost exactly as Kiffin would have liked.
Matt Barkley and the passing attack didn’t take any time establishing a rhythm, with Barkley completing all seven of his first quarter passes and finishing the game 19 of 20 for 298 yards as he tied his own school record with six touchdown passes.
Speaking of records, Barkley used the uptick in offensive output to break the career Pac-12 record for touchdown passes, while Robert Woods set records for career receptions and touchdown catches in game.
For a change, the play calling from Lane Kiffin was stellar through the air as Woods and Marqise Lee kept finding themselves open in space, and oftentimes Xavier Grimble was open over the middle as a check down receiver, including an eight-yard touchdown catch early in the first quarter.
Barkley’s confidence was back, and going into the rough patch ahead for the Trojans, it was important for that confidence to be recreated following lackluster performances on the road at Stanford and Washington this season. The Trojans have big time games to close out the season, and as Arash Markazi argues, the upcoming games will define his career, which stresses the need for confidence.
Also, the Trojans didn’t exactly have to re-invent the wheel to get the offense going, which was part of a well thought-out strategy against an opponent that doesn’t require gadget plays or new formations to beat them.
Kiffin utilized a similar passing attack that was deployed in the first two games of the season, with an aerial game predicated on screens and the mid-range game. Barkley only threw down field a couple of times, and other than adding a bit of no huddle and one play in which Marqise Lee lined up in the wildcat during a 2-point conversion attempt, the Trojans didn’t give Arizona and Oregon much of anything new to look within USC’s base offense.
Confidence within the base offense not only went hand in hand with a big lead, it allowed the Trojans to really take a step back and get players involved who wouldn’t normally have opportunities with the first team.
The Trojans ran just 48 plays, which is 13 fewer than Temple, who going into Saturday was dead last in the nation in offensive plays per game, but the Trojans still had 57 players see the field, prompting Kiffin to call it a ‘team win’.
That’s probably the best description Kiffin could have had for the occasion, as eight different players had rushing attempts to go along with the eight pass catchers the Trojans put on the stat sheets. De’Von Flournoy and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick had their first career catches, Kevin Greene had his first two career sacks and third-string quarterback Cody Kessler had not only his first ever collegiate snaps, but his first completions.
If you’re Lane Kiffin, other than Aundrey Walker going down with an injury, that’s exactly want you want to see against a team like Colorado that you’re expected to beat handily.