Trojans get defensive

first_img“I’m obviously ashamed,” Oregon State offensive guard Roy Schuening said after quarterback Sean Canfield was sacked nine times. “Words can not express it.” USC linebacker Rey Maualuga felt similar to Schuening last week after the Trojans’ loss to Oregon and said that pain was used for motivational purposes against the Beavers. “It was on our backs,” he said. “(Assistant coach Ken Norton) was telling us all the negative things the whole week. I never wanted him to be that upset again.” USC coach Pete Carroll installed an aggressive game plan, with plenty of man-to-man pass coverage because he knew Canfield often took a five-step drop and was too slow to evade the defensive line. No one took advantage more than freshman defensive end Everson Griffen. One of USC’s most highly touted recruits in the Carroll era, Griffen’s generally been a disappointment compared to his hype. But Griffen earned 31/2 sacks, forced a fumble and made six tackles. “It’s a big relief for me,” Griffen said. “I just showed everybody what I can do and what we can do. There’s a little bit of a release off my shoulders.” Carroll credited the defensive backs as much as the line for frustrating Canfield. “This was as much about the pass coverage as the pass rush,” Carroll said. “That’s clear.” It was also about an offense that went to sleep in the second half and failed to score. “It was not a stellar night on offense,” Carroll said. Quarterback John David Booty returned after missing three games with a broken finger, and immediately reminded everyone how inconsistent he could be before the injury. Booty completed six of his first seven passes but then reverted to his “Washington-Stanford” mode, with five consecutive incompletions and an embarrassing turnover when he got sacked for a 23-yard loss by defensive end Victor Butler, who forced a fumble and also recovered it. “I was a little rusty. The ball got away from me a couple times,” Booty said. The receivers also dropped a few passes, which made every pass play an adventure. “We really missed our chances in the catching dept.,” Carroll said. “It wasn’t all the receivers, John also had some high passes.” Fortunately for the Trojans, Booty’s fumble led to the only points of the night for Oregon State. So it didn’t matter if the offense scored or not in the second half. Booty did enjoy a nice drive that broke the 3-3 tie in the second quarter. He completed five straight passes during a 46-yard drive that culminated with tailback Chauncey Washington’s 1-yard run to give the Trojans a 10-3 lead with 9:35 left in the half. This being a USC game, there were some sticky spots. The 21-point victory did not protect some recent USC targets from the wrath of the crowd. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, already under fire, irritated the Coliseum crowd twice in the first quarter, when he called runs on third-and-long plays. USC faced a third-and-12 situation from its 34-yard line when he called a run to Joe McKnight that lost 2 yards. Sarkisian then called a run to McKnight on third-and-8 from the Oregon State 25-yard line. The play lost 4 yards and the Trojans settled for a field goal. The crowd also briefly turned on Booty in the second quarter, booing him on a high incomplete pass and then becoming more irate when Booty fumbled. The crowd’s fickle nature became apparent on USC’s next possession. Tight end Fred Davis dropped Booty’s pass and Booty then threw behind wide receiver David Ausberry. Only Booty’s bad pass elicited boos, however. “I think we can expect (Booty) to only improve,” Carroll said. The Trojans were happier focusing on the defense anyway, as Canfield completed 11 of 25 passes for 85 yards with an interception. Maualuga said with three games left, the Trojans can still salvage their season, as they are a game behind Oregon (8-1, 5-1) and Arizona State (8-1, 5-1) in the Pac-10 standings with a road trip to Berkeley next weekend. “It’s still too early. It ain’t over,” Maualuga said. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre USC might be ranked 13th, but the Trojans applaud baby steps following two losses in October and suddenly being forced to consider the possibility of playing in the Las Vegas Bowl. So it was not viewed as a total disaster that USC’s offense took a half off in its 24-3 victory over Oregon State before an announced crowd of 85,713 at the Coliseum. A win under any circumstances passes as acceptable these days. “We’re just sick of the feeling of losing,” linebacker Brian Cushing said. “That’s not something we can accept.” Luckily, the Trojans (7-2, 5-2 Pacific-10) found an opponent with an even more inept offense Saturday night, as Oregon State (5-4, 3-3) refused to alter its game plan despite being overwhelmed by USC’s defensive line. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Booty, USC offense are shaky, but team still dominates the Beavers. By Scott Wolf Staff Writer If you want an indication of how quickly the bar’s been lowered for USC football, the Trojans took comfort in an offense that gained 112 yards in the second half against Oregon State. last_img read more