The USC Trojans hosted a familiar face Cal Berkeley on what was Homecoming Night this past Saturday. Caleb Williams slung the ball all over the Golden Bears and USC’s defense was able to hold on, and in the end, came out with the victory 41-35.
This game may have flown under the radar but there was a lot of talent on the field regardless of the record of Cal. Purdue transfer Jack Plummer gave the Trojans all they could handle late in the game.
USC looked like they were going to run away with the game in the 3rd quarter up 34-14. The Trojan Bingo card wouldn’t be complete with a late-game defensive debacle allowing Cal to score on back-to-back drives after a successful surprise onside kick. The score quickly became 34-27 with Plummer finding his receivers Mavin Anderson and Jeremiah Hunter in open zones to keep the drives alive.
*Cue*Defensive breakdown struggles once again. The score looks a lot worse than how the game actually felt. USC was able to sack the quarterback three times and came away with nine tackles for loss and one interception.
However, the one thing this defense struggled with is getting off the field on 3rd down. Plummer and this offense had twenty-two first downs, which was two fewer first downs than Williams, who had 24. So if you remember how well Williams played just remember the Golden Bears moved the ball just as well as SC did. It seemed like every positive play the defense made was sandwiched by a negative one and that play would lead to a new set of downs.
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Alex Grinch got off to a rough start to the game with Cal scoring on their first possession with a very methodical drive. But, the Trojans were able to force a few 3 and outs themselves, forcing a turnover on downs a getting the interception to set their offense up with an opportunity for points before the half.
Lincoln Riley and the offense subsequently answered right back with a quick score. That would be it for a majority of the starter’s majority of the way through, the second unit allowed a late-game garbage touchdown to make the score look a lot better for Berkeley fans.
Jack Plummer believe it or not would have four hundred and sixty-nine yards to end the night, which was 169 more than Caleb Williams, not good for a secondary that was hitting their stride previously.
Now knowing all that information there are a few exceptions to this defense like senior defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu who had two sacks and two-and-a-half tackles for loss. As well, sophomore Calen Bullock who really plays the ball as true safety added yet another turnover for this defense. Say what you want about “bending” but when you catch “breaks” it’s forgiven easily.
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Caleb Williams, the man…the myth…the legend could have had one of his best games passing had his receivers not dropped three passes. Nonetheless, Williams had a great night going 26 for 41 for 360 yards and 4 passing touchdowns. Not to mention the damage he does on the ground as well as, scrambling when the play breaks down and picking up first downs.
Williams did all this without two of his top targets Mario Williams and Jordan Addison who didn’t play due to injury. Now without those two on the field, someone had to step up and that player was sophomore wide receiver Michael Jackson III who had five receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns. As well as the dependable junior in Tahj Washington who had seven receptions for 112 yards with a touchdown.
Travis Dye had another vintage performance. He ran for 98 yards on 15 carries with a few huge runs to keep moving the chains.
Riley did a great job during the game involving the run game when the quick passes looked to be too predictable based on how the Cal defense was playing up by the line of scrimmage. As I always say the best defense is a good offense and with Lincoln Riley, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of offense.