Trojans slay Bears 30-9 at AT&T Park


It took them a while, but the USC Trojans finally put on the show the fans have been waiting for, dominating the Golden Bears and beating them on their temporary home turf, 30-9. The Trojans did everything they needed to do to win and the Bears did the exact opposite of that, which was kind of surprising—but at the same time, not really—coming off of the impressive first half of play the Bears had against Oregon last week. However, even though USC did do everything right, there were things they could’ve done much, much better.

Marc Tyler evading a tackle. USC went on to win 30-9. C/O

On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Barkley was visibly shaky, as he has proven to be on the road. He was not in sync with his receivers, particularly Robert Woods, who he overthrew twice. To Cal’s credit, they did a fine job of blanketing Woods the entire game: he was limited to just 5 catches for 36 yards. Still though, Barkley didn’t look like the same QB who confidently picked apart Arizona’s defense. He completed 19 of his 35 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad, but the way the game started, it could’ve—and should’ve—been better. Cal’s offense turned the ball over for the first time very early in the game, giving USC excellent field position. By all accounts, this should’ve set USC up for a scoring drive. Instead the Trojans faked the field goal attempt with a pitch to tight end Rhett Ellison that went absolutely nowhere.

And speaking of turnovers, the Wall of Troy did a fantastic job of forcing Zach Maynard to turn the ball over five times. Prior to this game, the Trojans had forced just as many turnovers for the season. Maynard fumbled twice due to pressure from the d-line, and threw three picks, one to middle linebacker Chris Galippo and two to outside linebacker Dion Bailey. Bailey—in perhaps his best performance thus far—had a Junior Seau-like impact, and his presence was a game changer for the Trojans. The defense as a unit gave its best performance as well, holding an opponent to single-digit points for the first time since USC faced Arizona State in the 2009-2010 season. (Also, big ups to LT Matt Kalil for blocking his fourth PAT this season!) Like I said it could be, this game was the first time where we saw everything that this defense is capable of. The only time the defense really disappointed was on Cal’s second scoring drive, where Maynard marched down the field easily to get a touchdown.

Though USC won, this game ended with some of the Trojans’ key players getting banged up. Receiver Marquis Lee came out of the game early due to a sprained shoulder, but he is expected to be ready to go against Notre Dame next week. Running back Marc Tyler dislocated his shoulder and is expected to miss some time. But with the way Curtis McNeal has been playing—he had 17 carries for 86 yards and a TD—and with the addition of George Farmer, this might not be too big of a blow to the Trojans. Safety Demetrius Wright suffered a contusion to his leg, and also will be out for some time. The biggest injury though came to cornerback Anthony Brown, who suffered a broken ankle. Having Brown was huge for the secondary in light of Torin Harris’s injury and lack of productivity. Without him, ju-co transfer Isiah Wileywill have to fill in, which he did a good job of when Brown came out of the game.

DE Nick Perry and DT Da'John Harris trying to get to QB Zach Maynard. C/O

The only thing that really bothered me about this game was USC’s failure yet again to actually put away an opponent. Sure, Cal was limited to just nine points, but USC’s second half performance was miles behind its first half one. The Trojans have consistently struggled to finish out a game, and this will undoubtedly be the determining factor in whether USC can hang with the rest of the teams it has to face this season. Even QB Matt Barkley said that his performance was “not good enough” during the post-game press conference. The time for playing games is over: USC must find a way to dominate in the second half, or their win-loss margin is going to take a nosedive.

The last thing to take away from this game is the George Farmer factor. There are still a lot of questions surrounding Kiffin’s decision to burn George Farmer’s redshirt, but there was an indication of why it might be a good idea: Farmer is simply the fastest man on the field, AND he can get himself into space, where he can put said speed on display. Farmer only carried the ball once against Cal—but it was 14 yards. It would’ve been lights out for the Bears had he not been tripped up by a shoestring tackle. McNeal and Farmer will be huge for the Trojans in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for their progress.

With all that said, USC still left AT&T Park with the W, and will travel to South Bend to face the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame as a 5-1 team.

Brace yourselves, Trojan fans: the season is about to get real.