For the second week in a row, USC Football's offense had to find a way to score points without its top two receiving targets. As the Trojans began the final third of their schedule, a stretch of games that will keep them in Los Angeles for the month of November, both Jordan Addison and Mario Williams were absent from the starting lineup against Pac-12 rival California. In a game where USC would ultimately win 41-35, Heisman-hopeful quarterback Caleb Williams turned to a familiar face and a historical name in the passing game to keep his impressive play in good standing.
Williams found comfort in the likes of Tahj Washington and Michael Jackson III throughout the evening. Washington and Jackson III combined for 12 catches for 227 receiving yards, ensuring Williams was able to stay aggressive throughout the course of the night thanks to the pair's elite playmaking skills. For Washington, this is the second week in a row he has accumulated over 100 yards receiving. Perhaps his best play of the evening was a quick screen pass in the red zone in the third quarter that pushed the Trojans' lead to 34-14.
The unique aspect of this play is that the key lead blocker is Jackson III. In addition to this key block that resulted in a touchdown, "Mike Jack" was able to account for two of Williams' four passing touchdowns on the night. His best of the night was a 59-yard catch and run that showcased his elite speed and playmaking ability in the open field for a TD.
The wide receiver depth on this USC Football team is a luxury that most teams are not afforded.
USC Football has scored a total of 86 points in its last two games. Williams has accounted for nine passing touchdowns in that span while committing zero turnovers. Perhaps the most important stat is 2-0. USC has found ways to win without two of its most talented players on the roster. Though it isn't the most ideal of situations, USC is benefitting from perhaps its only position group with elite depth. Lincoln Riley has stated that he expects Addison is "very close" to coming back to the field. Additionally, Riley dismissed the notion that his players were being "saved" for future games on the schedule. You can see the Lincoln Riley interview below.
USC has improved to 8-1 on the season and 6-1 in the Pac-12. The AP Poll has ranked USC #8 in this week's version. USC will host Colorado this upcoming Friday on Veteran's Day.