Sunday, September 03, 2006

Trojans Toast Hogs

On Saturday afternoon I went over to my old roommate's pad to watch the Arkansas-USC game (no cable remember?). All in all, it was a glorious time. A bucket of KFC and 7 hours of football. It doesn't get much better than that.

Arkansas vs. USC

The new-look Trojans did not disappoint the SC faithful. The Trojans eventually pulled away to cruise to a 50-14 victory. John David Booty played a solid game in his first start at QB, completing 24 of 35 passes for 261 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. But the real star of the game was the Trojan D. Much maligned (and injuried) in 2005, the '06 defense was tenacious, forcing 5 turnovers and limiting the Razorbacks running game to 130 yards.

The game was in still in the balance at halftime with USC ahead 16-7, and that was only after Mario Danelo made a 44-yard FG to end the half. Both offenses struggled early. USC emphasized the running game, but neither Chauncey Washington or C.J. Gable could penetrate the Arkansas defense. Meanwhile the Trojan secondary halted the Hogs passing attack.

In the second half, Booty came out firing. At one point he completed 9 of 10 passes, with two tosses being for TDs. The touchdown throws were particulary impressive; one was a beautiful strike to a diving Patrick Turner in the corner, while the other was a laser to a leaping Fred Davis. Booty showed why he was the man chosen to lead this new era of Trojan football.

Three of the freshmen Trojan tailbacks played, with each scoring a TD. Gable (the first true freshman ever to start at the position for USC) was the most consistent runner in between the tackles. Emmanuel Moody was the quickest and flashiest, and Allen Bradford was more of a bruiser. If comparisons have to be made, Gable was reminiscent of Herschel Dennis, Moody was Bush-esque and Bradford was a less-agile LenDale. Stafon Johnson, arguable the most heralded of the incoming running backs, didn't play. It will be interesting to see if Stafon will be redshirted due to the depth at RB.

Other Notes on the Game

* USC's defensive line never pressured the Arkansas QB, recording only one sack. The Razorbacks had one of better offensive lines in the SEC last season, and this year looks to be no different.

* Mitch Mustain had the best start to a career I've ever seen for a true freshman quarterback on opening day. This is how Mitch began his first-ever offensive drive:

- 3-yard completion
- 2-yard completion
- USC offsides penalty for 5 yards
- Felix Jones runs for 24 yards
- 42-yard completion
- 4-yard touchdown run

The remaining Hog fans at the game were rooting and roaring for Mustain, and with good reason. There's no reason to think he won't be a future star. And that future may be real soon.

Notes on Other Games

Tennessee vs. California

Way to lay an egg, Golden Bears. Actually, it wasn't the entire team that failed, only most of it. First and foremost, the secondary was atrocious. At least three of Tennessee's touchdowns were the direct result of terrible tackling. Or non-tackling I should say. Cal is really going to miss losing stud CB Tim Mixon for the year. Also it appears the QB situation is still in flux. Neither Nathan Longshore or Joe Ayoob were on target. The type of offense Jeff Tedford runs requires an accurate arm to be successful (see Aaron Rodgers). Whether there's one on the Cal roster remains to be seen.

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