Quick Thoughts: USC-Hawaii


You are bound to find hundreds of game recaps, so I will just throw up a few thoughts on tonights action.

First, and most importantly, it was thrilling to watch the Men of Troy in action again. What offseason? Now that football has started, the focus is right where it should be–on what happens between the lines. I am so glad football season is back. Furthermore, USC started off with a win. It may not have been pretty, but the Lane Kiffin era begins with a pristine 1-0 in the record books.


-Matt Barkley looked stellar. Sure, he did it against Hawaii, but he threw some very precise passes and tied a school record with 5 TD passes. Reports of Barkley slimming down rang true tonight. He looked so much more mobile than in 2009. He completed passes on the run and extended some plays with his feet. Although it is game one, Barkley has put himself in the same class as Jake Locker and Andrew Luck, who are Heisman hopefuls.

-Ronald Johnson caught THREE touchdown passes tonight. After missing much of last year due to injury, Johnson made his presence felt. USC needs a deep threat and Johnson provides that with his excellent speed and hands. The offense ran smoothly in 2009 when Damian Williams was effective, and Johnson has a chance to be even better. For Johnson, this could be the beginning of a monster season.

-Marc Tyler hit it on the nail when he said to the camera, “I’m back!” He averaged somewhere around 9 yards per carry and had some very impressive runs. I love that Tyler hit the holes with authority and didn’t run tentatively. Tyler showed he is the number one back and earned another week atop the depth chart. When USC was determined to score again, Kiffin brought Tyler back in, and the back preceded to take it to the house. If the running game can stay this effective, the passing game will become wide open. That being said, USC got too pass happy in the second quarter, and it allowed Hawaii to gain momentum.

-Robert Woods didn’t really look like a freshman. For his first catch, he dove and made a nice grab. He seems to have solid hands and is able to get open. Pretty soon, teams will start keying on Johnson and it will be up to Woods to pick up the load. At the moment, I have faith he will be capable.


-Dave Dulberg of the Daily Trojan wrote a touching piece on Nickell Robey in yesterday’s paper. I want to root for the guy, I really do. However, he looked undersized, overmatched, and missed so many tackles. If I had a dollar for every tackle he missed, I could pay for Fall tuition. Granted, USC missed a lot of tackles. Nevertheless, it seemed as though Robey was at the center of nearly every missed tackle in the first half. Kiffin might need to reevaluate who starts opposite Shareece Wright against Virginia.

-Tackling was a serious issue. It appears as though the lack of tackling hurt USC. Hawaii was breaking tackles left and right. They managed to put up 36 points and gained around 580 yards. USC needs to focus on tackling if they plan to contend for the Pac-10.

-The secondary and linebackers was abused. Wide receivers were so open. I would hate to see how many yards after the catch Hawaii had. In the beginning, the Hawaii quarterback couldn’t hit anybody even though they were open. Furthermore, Hawaii ran the ball well and the linebackers seemed out of position often. USC got lucky they weren’t facing a good opponent. Monte Kiffin has three more games against sub-par opponents to work out the kinks of the defense. If the unit that showed up today shows up for Pac-10 play, it will be a long, long year. The offense can’t score 50 points every game. I get chills just thinking of what Jacquizz Rodgers, LaMichael James, Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, and even Nick Foles will do to USC.

Special Teams

-Going for 2 a lot confuses me. I understand USC had kicking problems in fall camp, but take your chances with it. It seems silly to go for 2 when your kicker is booting touchbacks. Also, I hate the fake formation that turns into a field goal formation, but I guess that is just a personal pet peeve.

-Ronald Johnson’s punt return was spectacular. He made a nice play just to catch it cleanly, broke a tackle, and then got good blocking as he motored down the sidelines. At a time when Hawaii was inching closer, the punt return brought USC back to life.

-Punting looked good. I dreaded whenever the punting or field goal unit came on last year. So far, so good. Baxter has done a nice job coaching this unit up.


The focus has to be on the defense. The offense played nearly flawless under Barkley’s direction. If the defense can step it up, USC will be a formidable force in the conference. Three easy games are coming up, so we won’t know much about how good USC is until the Washington game. Virginia is nothing special,  Minnesota just squeaked past Middle Tennessee State today 24-17, and Washington State is in the Pac-10 cellar. Hopefully things get worked out.

Fight On!