Following the Stanford loss, there was a feeling among the players and coaches that this team was close to putting it all together.
It was a quiet confidence that frankly was unexpected to see after a second consecutive heartbreaking loss, and showed that this team was building mental toughness.
That confidence was on display for all to see this Saturday at the Coliseum, as the Trojans jumped all over California early, and never let up en route to a 48-14 victory and their most complete performance of the 2010 season.
“I’m very pleased by the way our players came out today,” Lane Kiffin said. “For the first time, we played in exactly the style we wanted to play in.”
USC’s offense led by Matt Barkley continued to look like one of the best in the country, racking up 602 yards of total offense and scoring a touchdown on 6-of-7 first half possessions.
David Ausberry had a 22-yard TD reception. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
Robert Woods, coming off a 12-reception performance a week ago, got the offense going once again with a diving touchdown catch on USC’s first drive of the game.
The talented freshman also added a 9-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, and finished with a game-high 7 receptions for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Woods has performed like one of the top wide receivers in the country the past two weeks, and it’s now safe to say that he is going to be a star in his career at USC.
“There’s a similar style of play between him and Steve Smith, but (Woods) is faster,” said Kiffin. “He’s played great when we have given him the chance.”
Kiffin recently stated that Matt Barkley had taken the next step in his development, going from being a good quarterback to a great quarterback.
On Saturday, the sophomore signal caller certainly put up numbers that were worthy of that praise, completing 25-of-37 passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns.
“I like how we have progressed,” Barkley said. “All the work we put in in the offseason is paying off.”
Barkley has passed for 20 touchdowns this season with just four interceptions.
The most encouraging aspect of USC’s blowout victory had to be the play of the defense, which had been bruised and battered on the field, as well as in the press.
The Trojans held Cal to minus-8 yards in the first quarter of play, which allowed the offense to open up a big lead.
“The first three series we were three-and-out and we were blitzing them,” said linebacker Chris Galippo, who recorded a team-high six tackles. “We forced them to throw the ball.”
Cal’s 42-point halftime deficit was the worst in the school’s history.
Defensive linemen Jurrell Casey, Armond Armstead and Nick Perry all had tackles for loss and linebacker Shane Horton added a quarterback sack in the win.
T.J. McDonald, who has emerged as a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball, came up with an interception.
“To win in this style was really, really big,” Kiffin said. “I’m very proud of our players.”
The Trojans now have a bye week to get healthy and prepare to play the Oregon Ducks, who could be the top ranked team in the nation when they come into the Coliseum on Oct. 30th.
Matt Barkley passed for five touchdowns on Saturday. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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