USC vs Notre Dame: What Went Well/What Didn’t In The 48-20 Loss

In a late Saturday night matchup in South Bend, the USC Trojans fell to the Fighting Irish in a tough 48-20 loss. USC vs Notre Dame was an old-fashioned “whooping” by the home team. Caleb Williams had very little time to throw the ball and the offense failed to maintain any sort of a rhythm. Notre Dame Coach Marcus Freeman and his Irish defense were able to dominate the trenches and get to the quarterback numerous times. The Trojans were dominated in all three phases and we aren’t able to blame the defense this time around.

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What Went Well: The Defense

Now I know what you’re thinking, 48-20 doesn’t reflect a good defensive game by any means. What if I told you that USC’s defense held Notre Dame to only 251 yards of total offense? That’s the lowest amount they’ve allowed this year.

Caleb Williams threw three interceptions in the first half alone. Usually, we can decipher which ones are the quarterback’s fault and which ones aren’t. Bottom line: You can’t throw three interceptions in a game, let alone in 2 quarters. So this defense was already put in horrendous situations every time there was a turnover. Sam Hartman and his offense started five of their eleven drives inside USC territory. All that considered this Trojan defense only allowed ten points on six possible drives starting in Irish territory.

Yes, the Trojan’s defense still had hiccups in coverage and missed many tackles, however, these are encouraging stats going into the second half of this season.

NCAA Football: USC Vs Notre Dame
USC vs Notre Dame: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

What Didn’t: Everything Else

If this was your first USC game ever you would have no idea there was a Heisman-winning quarterback and one of the best offensive coaches in the country on USC’s side. When I said they had no rhythm earlier I mean there was absolutely nothing positive offensively that came out of that game. Caleb Williams along with those 3 turnovers had only 200 yards passing on 37 attempts.

Now that wouldn’t be a problem if the rushing attack was effective; the lead rusher Marshawn Lloyd only had 46 yards rushing. So now you have an offense where there is no threat of the run and now all they have to do is play man defense and create a pass rush. Without Williams’s escapability, there could’ve been at least 4 more sacks to go along with the 6 that were able to get home.

Not to rub salt in a wound but, not only did you have an offense that didn’t move the ball, to be completely honest they couldn’t. This offensive line gave Caleb an average of 2.1 seconds to throw the ball, albeit those interceptions are entirely on him. This offense hit a full meltdown with two back-to-back fourth-quarter fumbles to end the game.

Lincoln Riley needs to tweak a few things schematically or give other players a chance to get on the field because this is now 2 weeks in a row the offense, which was regarded as one of the best in the country, looked like one of the worst in the Pac-12.

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NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame
USC vs Notre Dame: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports