Big Tree Fall Hard: Scondi’s take on USC vs. Stanford


USC Football’s 42-24 win over Stanford made quite the statement. Here’s the good, the bad and the uncertain from last Saturday.

USC had a resounding victory against Stanford this past Saturday, beating the Cardinal 42-24. It was one of the best games I’ve seen the Trojans play in some time.

Here’s my breakdown of what was good, what was bad, and what was certain.

The Great

Rushing Attack

You know what they say, “If you rush for over three hundred yards, you have a good chance at winning the game”

USC has an incredible running game, but is it the best in the nation?

Unbiased Fox Sports analyst Matt Leinart seems to think so.

With Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr rushing for 116 yards and 119 yards respectively, they are a combo that can knock any opponent out.

The Trojans running back tandem is going to become a problem for opponents, but seems to be giving a lot of USC reporters issues since everyone is almost out of all the car puns they had prepared for the season.

I’d certainly thought I’d get a lot more mileage out of them.

As expected, Trojans fans have been having the appropriate response to Stephen Carr:

Just because a new Carr rolled into the USC’s driveway doesn’t mean you have to stop driving the other vehicles in your garage! Fans shouldn’t rush to treat Jones like Sheriff Woody after we get Buzz Lightyear for our birthday.

Although, Carr’s first two games have been extremely impressive.

Surprised the defender was able to stay in his shoes after that juke. Probably didn’t help that he was diving at the trail of dust Carr left in his tracks. For all the talk Stanford gets for being a prestigious academic school, you think some of their students would know more about angles.

Don’t be fooled, the Texas Tesla has plenty of charge left in his battery.

The Texas Tesla nickname is going to help Jones II a lot when he leaves USC.

No way Elon Musk doesn’t give Jones II an endorsement deal after he finishes his college career.

This isn’t an alley. It’s a freeway.

People always use the metaphor, “You could drive a truck through that hole,” but you could literally drive a full-size truck through that hole.

Hell, I could get at least five to ten yards on this play.

Fine, I’d at least make it past the line of scrimmage.

The offensive line last game was incredible. Stanford has won by dominating the trenches and USC  beat them at their own game.

And they did it without making any mistakes either. They had no pre-snap penalties, and only Chuma Edoga was flagged for a holding call.

That should be expected, since fans know Chuma doesn’t shy away from any penalties.

At least this time, he didn’t punch a ref, but given some of the questionable flags, it sure felt like USC did something to get on their bad side.

Sam Darnold

Guessing a lot of writers had to throw away the drafts of their “Is Sam Darnold overrated?” blogs or at least stow them away for his first game on the Jets.

They could just copy and replace his name with Josh Allen and post it after he lays an egg against the Ducks this Saturday.

Darnold threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. He started the game a perfect 11-for-11, and ended up finishing with an 80 percent completion rating.

Only two of his 26 passes ended up hitting the ground. Two were also interceptions, but Stanford had to break out some SportsCenter Top 10 athleticism to catch them.

If you’ve read any of my work before, I’ve told you that if you want the best Darnold, you have to accept that he’s going to make a couple of mistakes every game.

He’s got a gunslinger mentality like Brett Favre. Hopefully he doesn’t have the same texting habits.

Unfortunately he’s been throwing off of his back foot a lot. But this is his 12th start in college. He hasn’t even played a full season yet (I mean he has, but he hasn’t). Those small issues in his throwing motion will get fixed with more playing time.

Or they won’t. Who cares? Just look at some of these throws.

Deontay Burnett

Is Deontay Burnett one of the most overlooked players in college football right now? I assumed after last year, he’d have more of the spotlight this season, but all the bright lights of Los Angeles seemed to be focused on the players in USC’s backfield.

That lack of recognition hasn’t seemed to have stopped Burnett as he caught 9 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Score right before the end of the half? Check.

Diving end zone catch? Check.

Throw in between multiple defenders? Check.

Looks like the Trojans added the “Rose Bowl” to their playbook.

Uchenna Nwosu

The best player on defense last Saturday was Uchenna Nwosu, who played like he was holding tennis rackets in his hands as he batted down five passes, including one on the final play for Stanford’s offense.

It was actually incredible to watch, because if you were playing attention to Nwosu from the snap, you could see exactly what was going to happen. He gave up on the pass rush, sat around the line of scrimmage and spied on the quarterback, swatting the ball away as it was thrown and securing the victory for the Trojans.

While I’m not certain if he was in Keller Chyrst’s head, he was definitely in his personal space, creating pressure on almost every third down and collecting one sack.

Finishing The Game

The final swing of the ax to knock down the Cardinal took a while, but the fact that USC did not allow Stanford back into the game is an incredible sign for the Trojans this season.

USC in the last decade have allowed teams like Stanford to rally from behind and steal a win with a comeback.

That is, if the Trojans were even in the game to begin with.

But with Clay Helton and this year’s team, you can see a lot of resiliency in the second half, especially the fourth quarter. This team has been able to finish since the start of their winning streak last year, and that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

The Bad


The secondary hasn’t really been tested yet, but in the times they have, they’ve given up way too many plays, especially on third down.

The unnecessary penalties are an issue too, especially when the refs are as bad as they were last week. USC’s corners can’t be holding onto receivers in a game where a ball thrown 15 yards away from the target is considered a catchable.

This isn’t to say the secondary is a problem. They have made plays in both games this season, but they seem to give off the vibe of a unit that plays to their opponents’ talent level. It will be interesting to see when they face off against  air-raid offenses in conference play.


With no bye weeks, USC is going to have to stay as healthy as possible.

The camera must add a couple ligament injuries because it didn’t take long for Marlon’s first start on national television to end abruptly.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only Trojan with a knee injury.

On the brightside, this settles any future kicking controversies, since the Trojans will be forced to go with Chase McGrath moving forward.

Hopefully Brown has a fast recovery and is able to return to the Trojans next year.

Seeing as the Trojans offense didn’t struggle without Daniel Imatorbhebhe this past Saturday, I’m glad Clay Helton and the rest of the USC staff is taking every precaution to make sure he is fully healthy before he returns to the field. The season is a marathon not a sprint, and I’m pretty sure you need a healthy hip to do either.

For the shoulder injury to Porter, I have a hunch that he’s going to play this week.

There was no way anyone was going to keep Porter away from the weight room.

Special Teams

More like ORDINARY teams.

Besides the punting, the special teams have been anything but that. The Trojans are giving up excellent field position on almost every kickoff, and none of USC returners can seem to make any big gains on punts or kickoffs.

By this time last year, Adoree’ Jackson already had a return touchdown.  I know the bar is set high, and not because of Jackson’s leaping ability.

At least Jackson hasn’t lost a step.

USC needs to show at least a glimpse of what they had last year.



While the defense overall was a significant improvement from week one, there were still a couple of missteps in the first half.

Bryce Love looks like he has his own security detail the way his blockers clears out the USC defense on this play.

If this whole football thing doesn’t work out,  Stanford’s offensive line has a future working for the Secret Service or a celebrity entourage.

Before the game, many were uncertain if USC was going to be able to stop Stanford’s rushing attack but it looks like Clancy Pendergast did have those tools he was talking about last week.

Apparently he used a sledgehammer to hang a picture frame.

The run defense has been little slow out of the gate this season but seems to get up to full speed by the second half. So basically they show up at the same time the majority of USC fans do.

Balanced Attack

That Oregon team that put up those numbers on Stanford would go on to reach the National Championship, so USC are in very good company.

In the first drive, USC learned from what was successful against Western Michigan the week before and employed the strategy of death by a million Ronald Jones carries. Later on, they became a lot more balanced and it showed that the team wasn’t really employing much of a script as they did in the season opener.

More from Reign of Troy

While fans wouldn’t bat an eye if they saw Jones II and Carr combine for over 40 carries a game, it’s good to see the Trojans realize they have to maintain balance in order to keep all the star players healthy throughout the season.

USC doesn’t want to put a lot dents and scratches on the Texas Tesla this early in the year.

An unforeseen downside of the balanced attack is how much it will hurt Sam Darnold’s Heisman odds. Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson have to carry their teams to victory. Darnold only needs to account for half of the team’s offensive production.

Do you get award consideration for handoffs?

If not, good thing USC isn’t changing Traveler’s name because Sam Darnold might need Brent Musberger’s vote.