USC dominates Syracuse in season’s first blow out


Matt Barkley under center vs. Syracuse. Trojans went on to win 38-10. c/o Mike Richardon/

The atmosphere in the Coliseum during USC’s domination of Syracuse almost felt like it did during every single game of my freshmen year of college.

Emphasis on the “almost.”

The Trojans did score early and often in this game, and they held the Orange to just a field goal going into the half. They also managed to score three whole times in the second half (yes!), displaying offensive proficiency that had been sorely lacking in the previous two games.

We saw a variety of scorers in this game (FB Rhett Ellison, TE Xavier Grimble, TE Randall Telfer, WR Robert Woods, and  WR Marquis Lee), so there is little doubt that the Trojans can and should get it done, no matter how much teams key in on Robert Woods.

Speaking of Woods, this game was arguably his “worst” performance only getting 8 receptions for 82 yards, but Woods set another high mark for himself when he passed former wideout and Trojan great Keyshawn Johnson’s three-game span reception record of 32 with 33 of his own.

The defense continued to earn its Wall of Troy moniker, terrorizing the Orange offense all day and constantly forcing three-and-outs. And they did blow out Syracuse, just like the old days of Trojan victories. Taken as a whole, it was a very successful day for SC who will be 3-0 going to Arizona State next week.

But in looking at individual pieces, it is easy to see that some of the Trojans’ problem areas have changed little in three weeks of football.

The stars of each week have been the same: the defensive front seven have been working like machines. All three linebackers—Dion Bailey, Chris Galippo and Hayes Pullard—have come up with big plays in every game. Half of the secondary—Nickell Robey and T.J. McDonald—is always there delivering big hits to receivers, or breaking up plays entirely.

Offensively, left tackle Matt Kalil has done his job dutifully, protecting Barkley’s weak side and giving him time to hit his favorite target, Robert Woods. In fact, Barkley passed for a Trojan record-tying five touchdowns and a total of 324 yards.

Defensive Ends Wes Horton and Devon Kennard. c/o Mike Richardson/

For the rest of the team though, there have indeed been moments of brilliance but hardly anyone else has consistently stood out.

Running back Marc Tyler, who had a stand out performance last week, was downright horrible against the softest defense the Trojans have seen to date, only garnering 41 yards from 15 carries.

For reasons that remain a mystery to everyone but Lane Kiffin and Jesus, Coach Kiffin chose not to rotate his tailbacks late in the game, even though Tyler was visibly struggling. When they did come in, Curtis McNeal, Dillon Baxter, and D.J. Morgan combined had less carries than Tyler (12 to his 15), yet they more than doubled his yards (112 to his 47).

It would be unfair to crucify Tyler for his performance though, as the offensive line underachieved in a manner that hasn’t been seen in quite some time. For the most part, SC’s O-line was getting no push off of Syracuse’s smaller, less capable D-line. After such a strong performance last week, I expected them to come out and have a repeat performance, but that was not the case. They are clearly still struggling to find their rhythm, but with new guys, this is expected.

If the Trojans are to establish a running game against its first legitimate threat the Sun Devils next week, then the O-line absolutely has to get it together during this week of practice.

The other half of the Trojan secondary also needs to get its act together in the next six days because getting to an assignment late is absolutely not going to fly against better opponents. While it is obvious that the defense has collectively improved with each week—on Saturday they held Syracuse to just 34 yards in the second quarter—the secondary still appears to be our weakest, most exploitable link, especially in third-down and long situations. With Andrew Luck and Nick Foles on the horizon, the secondary’s issues will undoubtedly be deciding factors.

Lastly, we still have some offensive playmakers who are struggling with a nasty case of the butter fingers. Running back D.J. Morgan fumbled late in the game on his first carry, and he also fumbled last week in the redzone against Utah. Unfortunately, that might be the last we see of Morgan for a while, with Lane Kiffin’s utter distain for lack of ball security.

Perhaps Coach Kiffin might need to channel his inner Herman Boone this week, as mental lapses seem to be trending up as the season goes on as opposed to decreasing as game experience is acquired.

Overall, it was a solid victory for the Trojans, and it was a fine way to close out their home stand. Next week SC will go on the road for the first time this season and will face the ASU Sun Devils in what will probably be the best Pac-12 South match up all season.

Get ready Trojan fans: it’s gonna be a long, bumpy ride from here on out.