In what will be the last time the USC Trojans face the Washington Huskies as members of the PAC-12, it was quite the showing. USC lost 52-42 in yet another shootout where very little, and I mean very little, defense was played.
The Huskies remain undefeated at 9-0 and look to be the favorite to win the PAC-12 before its final send-off and are making a strong case for a playoff spot. USC drops to 7-3 and this more than likely keeps them out of the conference championship so now the best-case scenario is to win at least 1 of the next 2 games to end the year at 8-4.
With traveling to Oregon next week and finishing off the year with UCLA at home, the Trojans will certainly need to play their best.
USC Vs Washington What Went Right And What Did Not
What Went Well: The Offense
If I sound like a broken record it’s because I am. Without Caleb Williams, the Trojans would be lucky to touch 5 wins. Lincoln Riley was locked in, so much so the offense scored on six out of their ten offensive drives. With the exception of one turnover, the Trojans only punted the ball twice the entire game. This was a much more familiar looking considering Lincoln Riley being regarded as one of the better offensive play callers in the nation.
Caleb Williams had yet another vintage performance with a completion percentage of 77% and threw for 312 yards with three touchdowns. Williams extended over a dozen plays to move the sticks and willed the offense down the field. His movement in the pocket when a play breaks down is second to none and is almost as impressive as the velocity with which he throws the football.
One of his knocks is not staying put in a clean pocket and playing within structure, which isn’t quite fair when the offensive line occasionally forgets to block and edge defense or a player blitzes.
Many were quick to hop off the Williams train and start the “he’s just not as good as we thought” narrative. Yes, there were a couple of games where the whole offense, including Williams, looked very out of character. There were moments even in this game where Williams made mistakes. However, if we had to name one player who’s almost entirely responsible for a team’s success, as unfair as that sounds, it’d be Caleb Williams.
What Did Not: Defense
Every single week it’s the same exact scenario, a game of ping pong happens where each offense trades touchdowns for the entirety of the game. If you stop Washington more than just twice (one punt, one turnover) we probably end up winning, or at the very least tie the game up.
I see a majority of the USC fans and analysts blaming Grinch (now dismissed as the defensive coordinator) for the defensive struggles and he’s a big reason for them, but it goes much much deeper. When players miss tackles and blow coverages only so much can be blamed on the coaching.
The point total was 79.5 points combined for both teams, 63 points were scored in the first half. So it was clear the point total would go way over. The Huskies scored points on eight of their ten offensive drives, so the Trojans would need a mistake from Washington to get the ball back. The Trojans were able to get a turnover and subsequently score shortly after. However, USC was not able to get a stop for the remainder of the second half.
With the firing of Alex Grinch, we will see if this Defense looks any different against Oregon.