USC football: Studs and duds in the Trojans’ win over Colorado

John McCoy/Getty Images
John McCoy/Getty Images /
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John McCoy/Getty Images
John McCoy/Getty Images /


JT Daniels 1st Quarter

USC’s freshman quarterback looked very much like a freshman in the first quarter. His first throw was intercepted and it didn’t get much better from there. He went on to throw another pick while completing just 5-of-10 passes for 43 yards. Luckily for the Trojans, he bounced back and threw three touchdowns on the night, but that opening period was brutal.

USC’s running game

A week after putting up 253 yards and three touchdowns on Arizona, USC’s rushing game was far less effective against Colorado. The Trojans gained 62 yards on the ground with an average of 2.3 yards per rush. They only ran the ball 27 times, but unlike past frustrations involving the underutilized ground game, there was little reason to keep putting the ball in the hands of the running backs. Neither Aca’Cedric Ware, Stephen Carr nor Vavae Malepeai could find much real estate to work with. It was yet another chapter in what has been an inconsistent saga for USC this season on the ground.


Simply put, there were a lot of injuries on Saturday night, on both sides of the ball. USC started the night in the negative with the news that Cameron Smith would be unavailable with a hamstring injury. His replacement, Gaoteote, had to come out of the game with concussion-like symptoms. He wasn’t the only in-game injury loss for the Trojans. Defensive lineman Brandon Pili and cornerback Olaijah Griffin were lost to shoulder injuries. Jonathan Lockett aggravated his hip and Porter Gustin tweaked his already-injured ankle late on.

Colorado also had a handful of players leave the field and lost talisman wide receiver Laviska Shenault to a toe injury.

Pac-12 Refs

Fresh off a scandal revolving around a non-targeting call in the USC-Washington State game, the Pac-12 could have used a drama-free outing on Saturday. They didn’t get it.

When Colorado scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to pull the deficit down to 11 points, they didn’t actually realize they’d done so. Per Brian Howell of, when Colorado lined up for a two-point conversion which was ultimately intercepted by Greg Johnson, they thought they were lining up for a first-and-goal play as the touchdown was never officially signaled. The points weren’t added to the scoreboard until after the conversion attempt. It was only after the turnover that they realized it was not as devastating as it first seemed.

The gaff by the refs was ultimately meaningless, but still a moment of supremely bad optics for the conference’s officiating reputation.


The talk of USC’s bye week was discipline and the need to reduce the Trojans’ penchant for drawing flags. On the one hand, they had less fouls facing Colorado than they did against Arizona. On the other hand, they still had 13 penalties for 123 yards. That’s a lot of dirty laundry for a team that was supposed to be cleaning up its act.