History repeats itself for the Golden Bears; they enter the season with lots of hype, only to fold like a bad hand in poker. Time for them to enter hibernation!
Cal’s Heisman hopeful tailback, Jahvid Bust, was held to a season-low 47 rushing yards against USC. Meanwhile Joe McKnight looked the best out there, rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Cal’s quarterback, Kevin Riley, really outdid himself this time. Just when you thought his passing completion rate of 38.7% against Oregon could not get any worse, he sunk to a new low against the Trojans with a completion rate of 37.5%.
USC was clicking. The defense looked solid, holding Cal to 3 points. USC’s linebacking corps is thin due to injuries, but impressive nonetheless. Chris Galippo tipped a would have been touchdown pass and hit a Cal receiver so hard the ball fell loose and was incomplete. I’ll cut Kevin Riley some slack since it was the receiver that lost the ball. Had that pass been complete, Kevin Riley’s pass completion rate would have jumped to 40%, signifying an improvement from the Oregon game ;). Michael Morgan always finds his way to the opponents backfield and makes tackles for losses. UNLV transfer and safety converted to linebacker, Shane Horton, did a great job filling in for the injured Jordan Campbell and Malcolm Smith, racking up 8 tackles. Horton will hear some woo-hoos for that.
Another reason for the Trojans’ success was a greater performance by special teams and a significantly lower number of penalties. Damian Williams returned a 67 yard punt for a touchdown, they recovered a fumble after a punt to Cal’s Syd’Quan Thompson, and kicker Jordan Congdon made all 3 of his 3-point field goal attempts.
Matt Barkley is improving each game and his experience is invaluable. After winning in a large, loud, hostile environment at Ohio State, he should be able to handle anything that comes his way, and it showed on the road at Cal. He looked calm and poised throughout the game. He looks more comfortable making longer range passes, which is exactly what USC needs to do.
USC’s passing game has improved these last 2 games and I give credit to Jeremy Bates for opening up the offense more. This has allowed redshirt freshman Brice Butler show he is capable of making plays. USC’s fastest wide receiver, Ronald Johnson, is expected to return for the Notre Dame game. His speed should cause fits for the opposing defenses, and Barkley can always throw to another veteran receiver.
It’s sad that Stafon Johnson is out because of his injury, but the show must go on, and it is. This 1-2 tandem of Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford looks pretty good.
Beat the Irish!