USC Football Crushes Hawaii 49-10 In Stellar Defensive Performance
(View a slideshow of the best game photos from photographer Jerry Ting here.)
The top-ranked USC Trojans scored early and often en route to a 49-10 victory over former offensive coordinator Norm Chow and his Hawaii Warriors on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Matt Barkley and the USC offense brought the sellout crowd of 93,607 to its feet on the first play from scrimmage. He connected with wideout Marqise Lee (10 receptions for 197 yards and a TD) on a short pass that Lee took down the sidelines for a 75-yard score.
From there on out, it was much of the same.
On their second drive, the Trojans started from their own 1-yard line and strung together an eight-play, 99-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 20-yard touchdown strike from Barkley to junior WR Robert Woods -- one of two TD connections the pair hooked up for.
"I think the real story of the game is the defensive line," Kiffin said. "We got to see a lot of kids that haven’t played a lot."
Playing with a lead was a good formula for the USC defense as the Trojans limited the Warriors to 264 yards of total offense and a paltry 3.7 yards per play.
The defense also recorded four takeaways, highlighted by Hayes Pullard's first-quarter interception return for a touchdown, after the Trojan offense had just fumbled.
"It wasn't my play to actually make. I was supposed to be in the backfield blitzing," Pullard said. "[I was just] able to run to the ball at the right time and actually catch an interception."
The USC defense spent a fair amount of time in the Warriors' backfield, recording five sacks of Hawaii QB Sean Schroeder in his first college football game.
Schroeder's tormenters included freshmen defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Christian Heyward, who each ended the night with a sack and a fumble recovery.
The lone negative in the first half for the Trojans, and really in the game, was penalties. At one point in the first half, USC had totaled more yards in penalties than the defense had even allowed.
But despite the penalty miscues, USC went into the locker room at the half up 35-0.
Chow’s squad didn't roll over without a fight, scoring on the opening possession of the second half on an 18-yard TD pass from Schroeder to Scott Harding.
Kiffin's offense managed to find the endzone once more, when Barkley (22-for-38, 372 yards, four touchdowns) connected with tight end Randall Telfer on a 4th-and-3 situation late in the game.
It was an ideal result for the Trojans -- a blowout win that allowed tons of young, inexperienced players to see the field. And the performance was sloppy enough (eight penalties totaling 74 yards) for Kiffin to be able to crack the whip and keep the team from becoming overconfident.
USC faces its first road test next week when it travels to New Jersey to take on Syracuse at MetLife Stadium. It is often said that the most growth a team will experience occurs between the first and second game.
Kiffin, no doubt, is looking for his team to take another huge step forward.