The Trojans ended their season on a high note with a 24-13 victory over Boston College on a cold and rainy night in San Francisco. The disciplined performance (only 6 penalties for 36 yards) while shutting out Boston College in the second half provides the Trojans the positive energy they need going into the offseason.
Here’s a quick review to the keys of the game:
Avoid Complacency: One thing Pete Carroll tends to do very well is have his teams ready to play in bowl games even when the game seems like a disappointment. Despite playing in a lower tier bowl, the Trojans played with positive enthusiasm and the coaches had the team well prepared. The team seemed to grow up a little bit by avoiding unnecessary celebratory penalties and battled through mid-game adversity, especially Matt Barkley.
Stuff RB Montel Harris early: Though Montel Harris had a great second quarter, the Trojans stopped him in his tracks in the first quarter and were able to take a 14-0 lead.
Fortunately, he fumbled near the goal line in the 3rd quarter which allowed USC to maintain the lead and eventually open up a two score advantage forcing Boston College to turn to its erratic passing offense.
Confuse the BC Quarterback: 25 year-old True Freshman Quarterback Dave Shiniskie continued to struggle against a defense focused on speed. He was 14-33 with 1 TD and 1 INT. Against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and USC, Shiniskie was 27-64 with 2 TD’s and 7 interceptions. Once Boston College had to throw the ball to try and win the game, USC hurried him into quite a few bad throws and should have ended up with 3 interceptions.
Open up the offense while running Bradford 20-25 times: Despite throwing two interceptions, this was a very good performance for Barkley coming off a very tough November. Throwing for 350 yards and two touchdowns clearly solidifies him as one of the leaders heading into the offseason. Damian Williams was the focal point of the offense with 12 catches for 189 yards, however play caller Jeremy Bates did a good job of spreading the ball all over the field as Stanley Havili, Ronald Johnson and Alan Bradford (17 carries) got plenty of touches. Havili, Johnson, Bradford and Barkley provide a great base for the offense to build on next season.
MVP’s for USC:
**Damian Williams: Unfortunately for USC fans this was probably the last game that Williams will play at USC. His performance in the Emerald Bowl solidified him as one of the top WR’s in the country and a probable 1st round draft pick in this year’s draft.
**Stanley Havili: The best fullback in the country showed why some think he would be drafted in the late 1st round if he decided to go pro. Fortunately, Havili will stay at USC next season and he should get at least 10-15 touches a game next season.
**Shareece Wright: I predicted he would have a pick and not only did he have a pick but he clearly upgraded the defensive backfield. He is a special player that could earn All-American honors next year.
The Skinny’s keys to the off-season and insider observations on the program will be out later this week.