USC Football: Five Things We Learned Versus Cal

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Nov 9, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) runs for a touchdown on a punt return against the California Golden Bears during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

1) Special Teams Play Makes A Difference

Even though it was a blowout during which the USC offense might have scored 62 points on their own, Trojan special teams put their stamp on the game early and often.

Nelson Agholor was named Pac-12 special teams player of the week for his outing, which included two electric punt returns. The first came on the very first Cal punt of the day. The speedy wide out caught the ball and, with the help of textbook blocking from the punt team, blew past defenders like they were stuck in the mud. His second return, the more impressive of the two, came from 93-yards out and included a nice juke to get past the first defender, a few missed tackles and a well-timed cut back towards the other side of the field to secure the touchdown.

But it wasn’t just Agholor who made it a special day on special teams. Four Trojans burst through the punt protection untouched and Soma Vainuku continued his strong year by either getting his hand on the punt or forcing the kick into the back of a blocker. Either way, Josh Shaw scooped up the ball and ran it in for the touchdown.

What does that mean for Stanford?

The Cardinal are not the wreck of a team that the Bears are, so don’t expect these special teams victories to mean that Agholor or Vainuku are going to return or block punts every game. However, Stanford is tied with Cal for the most punt returns of 20 or more yards allowed this season.

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