<
>

Postgame thoughts: UCLA

PASADENA -- Notes, quotes and video from USC's 28-14 win over UCLA on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl:

  • This one was interesting -- one of the Trojans' better defensive performances of the year sandwiched between a great running game and a mediocre passing game. Senior Allen Bradford ran the ball 28 times for 212 yards and added a 47-yard touchdown reception too. Remarkably, he averaged almost nine yards for each of his touches Saturday -- this, after earning a total of 20 touches in the six previous games. We'll have more from Bradford later in this post, but teammates had plenty of positives to say about him on his final night as a Trojan. Said fullback and fellow senior Stanley Havili: "He's faced adversity here. How you respond shows the character and the man that you are. Obviously Allen has been through his ups and downs. This is a way for him to go out on an awesome job." And quarterback Matt Barkley: "He was definitely a playmaker tonight." And running back Dillon Baxter: "I'm real excited for A.B. He had a rough year and for him to end it like this, I'm proud of him." Cornerback Nickell Robey simply called him a "beast."

  • As for Barkley, although he wouldn't admit much after the game, he was obviously affected by his sprained left ankle. Considering that, his 15-of-26, two-interception, one-touchdown line looks a lot better than it would had he been healthy. Said Ronald Johnson, Barkley's leading receiver on the night with five catches for 36 yards: "He had a messed-up ankle, but it was great to have him back." Barkley analyzed his performance with an eye toward the future: "I've still got a lot to work on this offseason, I think, especially with timing with the receivers -- which has gotta be one of my big projects this offseason."

  • The fourth-quarter scoring pass from Barkley to Bradford was definitely USC's play of the day -- with Bradford's 73-yard run the only other one coming close. On the swing pass that ended in the touchdown, Barkley said he checked down pre-snap into a new play and found Bradford at a perfect time in his route. Talking about the play postgame, Barkley went as far as comparing it to the glory years for the Trojans: "Plays like that are what USC football used to be and what it needs to be -- playmakers like that making guys miss, making guys fall to the ground."

  • Lane Kiffin made an interesting observation near the end of his postgame press conference when he said that the style in which USC won the game -- old-fashioned, run-run-run -- is more attractive to recruits than other styles, giving USC a leg up on competition for L.A.-area prospects. Robey, a freshman, agreed and said that -- physicality -- was one of his most desired attributes when he was deciding on a school a year ago at this time: "That right there set the tone for the recruits. It set the tone for everybody around the team. It creates more fans. It's a great thing in all phases."

  • Malcolm Smith extended his reputation as a "Bruin killer" -- per linebacker Michael Morgan and cornerback Shareece Wright -- with his 68-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown near the end of the first half. Last year, he scored USC's first touchdown against UCLA with a 62-yard interception return in the Coliseum. This time, he was a little bit emotional on the Rose Bowl field afterward."This is it, right here," Smith said. "Seeing the fans out here after the game -- this is it." And Morgan, quickly looking forward: "We have a great staff and a bunch of great young players. It's gonna be fun, man. I'm excited to watch these guys next year and in the years to come. It's gonna be a fun ride for these guys."

  • Baxter's five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rhett Ellison was Baxter's second college completion and his first scoring pass. It was also only the second touchdown the true freshman has been involved in on the year -- an undoubtedly disappointing one for the 19-year-old, who ended up with 252 yards on the ground after Kiffin called him maybe the most talented player on the team in the preseason. His 4.3 yards per carry were the worst of the team's big four backs and significantly worse than Havili's. Baxter was quite happy about the touchdown after the game: "That was cool, bringing back high school memories," Baxter said. "It was cool to end the year like that, beating the Bruins and throwing a nice touchdown pass."

  • Final notes: Walk-on Tony Burnett started over a healthy Jawanza Starling at safety and had six tackles, although he missed a chance to tackle Johnathan Franklin on the UCLA back's 59-yard run. Across from Burnett, Marshall Jones started and had 10 tackles, including one for loss. He was on the field at the end of the game when his brother, Malcolm Jones, but didn't tackle him. Both of the other set of the brothers on the two rosters, T.J. and Tevin McDonald, did not play. ... Baxter's touchdown pass was USC's first TD pass by a non-quarterback since Reggie Bush completed one to Dwayne Jarrett against Arizona State in 2004.

***

Kiffin spoke to the media after the game and had a lot of interesting things to say, including a statement on what his players learned this season from being held out of a bowl game by the NCAA sanctions:

***

Bradford also appeared inspired after the game, talking about the finale of his USC career and the future of Trojan football. See what he had to say in the Rose Bowl tunnel postgame: