USC Passing Struggles Versus Oregon State; Defense Makes A Statement In 17-14 Win

USC escapes Corvallis with a win. Justin Urgo delves into the most important numbers behind the Trojans win.

Justin Urgo
The USC Defense Lead The Nation With 11 Interceptions Photo Credit: John McGillen | USC
The USC Defense Lead The Nation With 11 Interceptions Photo Credit: John McGillen | USC

If this was your first game watching Lincoln Riley and this new Trojan squad you’d find it laughable that anyone on that offense was even getting a look for the Heisman trophy. On Saturday night USC made the trip to the infamous Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. The Trojans are all too familiar with this stadium for the wrong reasons, unfortunately.

Oregon State, for some reason, always plays USC extremely well. Both 11+ win squads led by Pete Carroll lost in Corvallis in 2006 and 2008. Other than that undefeated 2004 season those years had some of the best Trojan squads that have ever played. Most recently the Beavers chomped through the Trojans in 2021 45-27. Luckily, last Saturday night was a different USC team and a different outcome.

USC By The Numbers

Sixteen

Fortunately for those of you reading, you won’t have to read about how many yards or completions Caleb Williams had for the 4th week in a row. Unfortunately, it wasn’t because our run game was particularly getting it done despite Travis Dye having a decent game with 133 yards. Caleb Williams only completed only SIXTEEN passes Saturday night.

You might be saying “Ok !?!”, “Considering he threw it 36 times it’s a huge dropoff from previous games.” Williams averaged 21 for 28 coming into this game which is a completion percentage of 75. That ranked Williams fourth in the nation. So knowing all that, you’d assume he’d stay hitting those marks…

Wrong! Williams threw the ball 36 times and completed less than half of those, the offense looked off the whole night and couldn’t get into a rhythm.

Credit to Oregon State because that defense was a veteran squad who had a great game plan going in. Good defense or not USC has got to respond and get back on track next week before playing better offensive teams.

One Hundred Thirty-Five

Going into Saturday night many USC fans were worried about the run defense. Rightfully so. Trojans allowed 531 yards on 111 carries which ranked them in the low eighties among college programs. Surprisingly they only allowed 153 yards. Which isn’t good, but Oregon State is notorious for running the ball at a high level so the expectation was around 225 yards.

The Beavers still ran well and broke off big runs but, Tuli Tuipulotu and this Eric Gentry offense led the charge and really made an effort to prevent the play from getting started. Alex Grinch did a good job scheming them up to make plays in the backfield or near the line of scrimmage. Oregon State came into this game rushing for 180+ a game led by Deshaun Fenwick and Jack Colletto. Considering how this defense was gashed in previous weeks on the ground, I’d say the Trojans did a good job.

Four

Again this defense might be the most opportunistic and dangerous unit to throw against. They have notched 11 interceptions, which leads the country. The next closest program is Louisiana with nine. Unlike this defense’s ability to defend the run has been uber consistent against the pass.

Alex Grinch and this unit have only allowed 200 yards once and that was against Stanford. Veteran cornerback Mekhi Blackmon has quickly become one of the best players on the defense and a top 10 corner in the nation. Blackmon, Max Williams, Eric Gentry, and freshman Ceyair Wright all had interceptions against Oregon. If this defense keeps turning the ball over at this rate, the next stop is the record books for this secondary.

The USC Defense Lead The Nation With 11 Interceptions Photo Credit: John McGillen | USC
The USC Defense Lead The Nation With 11 Interceptions Photo Credit: John McGillen | USC