Bleacher report: Trojans' report card
From the Bleacher Report:
In a game that demanded repairs to a Trojan offense that stalled badly in Seattle where they lost yet another game they should have won, only partial answers were supplied. Meanwhile, new questions arose and in some ways, a much larger sense of vulnerability prevailed.
Here is the Trojan report card for this highly uneven performance:
Jeremy Bates needed to open up the passing game and to his credit, he did. Even with a sore shouldered Matt Barkley, the Trojans threw down field often and with success. It was apparent that young Mr. Barkley was not throwing at full strength but overall, the game plan will give the Bears something to chew on for next Saturday. The running game was effective, except for inside the WSU five yard line on fourth downs but more on that later. Sustained drives were an issue and WSU actually had more first downs than the Trojans (18-14).
Barkley, under the circumstances, was outstanding. Though obviously not at full strength, the true freshman still found receivers down field and showed great touch. At least three passes were dropped and one taken away when Travon Patterson went out of bound and came back in to make a catch. Barkley had a career high 247 yards on 13 completions. Meanwhile, Aaron Corp, in mop up duty, managed a fumble and little else.
Allen Bradford looked great. He was a steamroller who couldn't be stopped as his 9.1 yards per carry would indicate. Same with Joe McKnight who averaged over 8 yards. Curtis McNeal, in mop up duty, showed what the fuss about him was about during the spring and fall practices as he too averaged almost 8 yards a pop. After that, it gets pedestrian as Stafon Johnson, C.J. Gable and Stanley Havili combined for 29 yards on 10 carries. The Trojans went 0 for 2 on fourth down running plays inside the Cougar 5 yard line. That is unacceptable. It is time for Coach Carroll to tighten up this rotation...now.
Another uneven effort. Damien Williams looked great sometimes and he did compile 100 yards on 5 catches with a touchdown but he also had a fumble and a couple of costly penalties. After that, it was a crapshoot with only Havili and his 3 receptions counting for much in terms of multiple receptions. Brice Butler had a nice touchdown and Anthony McCoy, who was hurt later in the game and Blake Ayles, who replaced him, each had a long pass reception. However, there were several drops and those need to be tightened up as well.
Two things...first, this is supposed to be the strength of the Trojan offense. Second, they were playing against a depleted Cougar defensive line. Instead of taking advantage of this obvious disparity in talent, the offensive line struggled to some extent. Yes, they opened up some nice holes for runners like Bradford but they also had multiple holding calls and let Barkley get hit far too much although they only gave up one sack. When they needed 2 or 3 yards on the fourth and goal plays, they didn't deliver. This line should do better and they better find themselves fast.
Overall Grade for the Offense: C+
For the most part, the defensive game plan worked well against an over matched opponent whose offensive line was wracked by injury. The defense had 8 sacks and the first unit pitched a shutout although they had some trouble on the last drive of the first half when WSU inserted true freshman quarterback John Tuell, who made some nice plays with his feet. The second unit gave up a garbage time touchdown as time ran out.
This unit had a nice game but again, it was against a Cougar offensive line that was depleted. Jurrel Casey stood out and Everson Griffen was in the Cougar backfield all night. The Cougars only averaged 1.8 yards per carry and the Trojan d-line disrupted the Cougars throughout the game. Two fumbles recovered helped. Loni Fatupu, the Trojans massive back-up nose guard was hurt. As of this writing, his status hasn't been confirmed.
Another solid performance and Michael Morgan was simply a beast with 3-1/2 sacks by my count. Chris Galippo stuffed the run on numerous occasions and Jordan Cameron, filling in for Malcolm Smith led the team in tackles but he sprained an ankle and likely will miss this Saturday's game with Cal. Jarvis Jones, the first linebacker into the rotation and a true freshman, had an okay performance.
Josh Pinkard had a nice interception in garbage time but they also had trouble covering true freshman Gino Simone, who had eight receptions. There were a couple of corner blitzes which worked and on those plays, the safeties did a nice job of covering their responsibilities to make those work.
Overall Defense Grade: B+
Ummm, not so special. Yes, Damien Williams had several nice punt returns. But the Trojans also missed another very makeable field goal and there were several penalties on both the kickoff and punt returns. The punting, with Jakob Harfman replacing Billy O'Malley improved to some extent.
The Trojans needed a much better effort in this game to prepare for going into next weeks game at Cal. If they play against the Bears the way they played against the Cougars, chances are they lose. The Trojans had 13 penalties and this is completely unacceptable. Although WSU coach Paul Wulff is making strides with the Cougars and it appears he found his quarterback of the future, the Trojans had no business struggling against this team and struggle they did. Pete Carroll had better find answers, and it has to happen quickly.
Overall Game Grade: B-