Saturday afternoon the USC Trojans traveled to Northern California to take on a familiar foe in the Stanford Cardinal. In week two Lincoln Riley makes his first debut against a divisional opponent and had similar success defeating the Cardinal 41-28. Granted this isn’t the Stanford from previous years, but it’s still a well-coached club and divisional wins don’t come easy.
USC vs Stanford: By The Numbers
Caleb Williams and the Trojans put up sixty-six points last game but if you read the stat sheet you’d know a majority of those points were actually from the defense. This week was a different story, Williams managed to throw for over 300 yards for his second straight week while throwing to eight different receivers throughout the game.
The offense as a whole had over 500 yards, making this two weeks in a row that this unit has not missed a beat. Riley mixed in the pass and run pretty well, not allowing Coach Brian Shaw to key in on the pass, given its early success. There were a total of 36 rushing attempts and 27 passing attempts, which may sound a bit strange considering this is an air raid offense. However, this shows if the game script allows it, Riley is not afraid to run the ball.
Travis Dye had a great day with 17 rushes for 104 yards and a 27-yard touchdown. As I mentioned earlier, Caleb Williams threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns, with an average of 12.6 yards a completion. We also got to see Mario Williams shine a bit with four receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
One Hundred Seventy-Two
Jordan Addison once again reminded the Pac-12, and the nation, why he is the number one receiver in College Football. Addison racked up 172 yards on just seven receptions, along with two touchdowns, one being a 75-yard bomb for a score.
Williams and Addison continue to put up crazy numbers, and to be honest, even if you knew it was coming, I find it hard to believe anyone would stop it. The chemistry between these two is as close to art as you can get. Addison dominates on the initial release as he uses his speed along with his savvy route running to create separation.
This game perfectly demonstrated how fast and how quickly the plays under Riley develop. The tempo and spreading the ball around from hash to hash makes it extremely difficult to cover for the defense, especially if a player is averaging 24.6 yards a reception.
This Trojan defense has forced eight turnovers in the last two games. USC’s turnover margin is plus four, which ranks them third in the nation. Yes, the rush defense was again exposed as the D-line wasn’t able to create push or reset the line of scrimmage. Stanford’s offensive line found some success in the run game.
This defense will have its ups and downs with the “bend but don’t break” scheme defensive coordinator Alex Grinch deploys. The defensive line has to be a lot better against the run and not require the linebackers and defensive backs to make as many tackles as they had to. The pass rush wasn’t there for the first half, but as the game went on, the edge rushers got home ending the game with five sacks.
Senior defensive back Mekhi Blackmon continued to make plays coming up with an interception in the endzone, racking up six total tackles, and two fumble recoveries. Junior defensive back Max Williams also made his presence felt by grabbing an interception, totaling seven tackles, and forcing a fumble down on the goal line.
In the end, when your defense creates turnovers at this rate, it’s tough to be disappointed when you give your offense an extra four possessions a game.