Well defended, over his head and falling down, #1 Patrick Turner manages to reel it in for a touchdown. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Last season John David Booty suffered his first upset loss in Corvallis Oregon at the hands of the Oregon State Beavers. As fate would have it this season, Booty would come back after sitting out three games with a broken finger just in time to face the Beavers at the Los Angeles Coliseum. But history would be on his side, as Oregon State had not beat USC at home in some 46 years…Make that 47. Yes, John David Booty led the Trojans to an easy 24-3 win over the Beavers.
It wasn’t the Trojan offense that wowed the homecoming crowd, but rather the defense that put on the best show. Although Oregon State came into the game ranked first in the entire nation in sacks, it was USC’s defensive squad who showed their true colors, hitting hard and taking names at every opportunity. Mainly the name of OSU quarterback Sean Canfield, who was terrorized by a Trojan-D that recorded nine sacks.
Booty had a good game. He threw for a decent 19/33 for 157 yards, 2 touchdowns and most importantly zero interceptions. Never-the-less Booty still managed to turn over the ball, fumbling on a sack that led to the Beaver’s only points: a second quarter field goal that tied the game at 3. Offensively, the rest of game occurred in the second quarter, with all three Trojan touchdowns piled on by half-time. There would be no points put up by either team in the entire second-half of the game.
The Trojan running game was low-to-steady for the second week in a row, lagging any explosive flair with no offensive rushes over twenty yards. Chauncey Washington led the tailbacks with 12 carries for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Washington was followed by Stafon Johnson (37-yds) and Joe McKnight (34-yds). One of Washington’s touchdowns didn’t count towards his rushing total, however, as it came in the way of an exciting 26-yard touchdown pass from Booty. The longest run came on special-teams by freshman receiver Ronald Johnson, who returned the kick-off some 42 yards after the Beavers’ only score.
Passing, USC was a bit more effective, at least during the second quarter. Vidal Hazelton led the way with five catches for 53 yards, with a 30-yard long. Behind him was Fred Davis with five for 31-yards, and Patrick Turner who only had one catch for 13 yards, although it was an impressive falling-touchdown pass. Two of the other Trojans compiling top receiving-yards were actually tailbacks, with Chauncey Washington (31-yds) and Joe McKnight (38-yds) showing their ability to be dual threats with soft-hands that are also viable targets.
Lucky for all Trojan fans, and unfortunate for OSU quarterback Canfield’s hefty chiropractor bill, the USC defense was top-notch. They limited the Beavers to only three points, and if not for Booty’s fumble, might have recorded their second shut-out game of the season. Speedy freshman defensive-end Everson Griffen showed why he’s worth his weight in gold, recording 3.5 of the Trojans 9 sacks.
“We wanted to show that we can be a dominating defense,” Griffen said. “We’re back and we’re going to stay.”
Safety Kevin Ellison added another two sacks to the total, Lawrence Jackson had 1.5 and Sedrick Ellis and Brian Cushing had one each.
In what seemed to be a change in defensive philosophy, USC finally showed their aggressive side. Instead of worrying about the big, deep plays, the Trojans normal-conservative zone play was replaced by a heavy up-front, man-to-man scheme that seemed to showcase their brilliant defensive ability. In other words the Trojan squad was finally allowed to showcase their super-star speed and power. They were allowed to make big plays. And I’m sure the entire game had pro-scouts drooling, with each hit becoming something that would easily make the highlight reel. The pressure was constant, the pass-rush was effective, and Oregon State fell into frightened, predictable play-calling. The Trojan D was so aggressive the Beavers didn’t record a first-down by passing until the third quarter.
Hopefully the Trojan-D will use this game as their new standard, taking their aggressive play on the road to Cal on Saturday. If they keep playing like they did this weekend, they have a chance to keep the record alive: So far Pete Carroll has never lost a game in November. And with games fast approaching at Cal and Arizona State, they’re going to have to work hard to keep that trend alive.
*Stats from ESPN