Notes, quotes and video from USC's 48-14 win over Cal at the Coliseum:
Saturday's victory was important for USC in that it stopped a rare two-game losing streak for the squad, but the way the Trojans beat the Bears was the story of the day. USC outscored Cal 42-0 in the first half and outgained the Bears by a margin of 602-245, and the outcome was never really in doubt once the Trojans scored. "To win was huge," Coach Lane Kiffin said afterward. "To win in this style was really, really big -- against a good team."
Of course, as soon as USC put together an all-around solid performance like this one, the comparisons to Trojan teams of old began to be thrown out. "It reminded me of the way we used to play here," defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron said. "There was no doubt about that. I had that feeling on the field." Said USC right tackle Tyron Smith, a junior who hardly practiced this week with a sprained ankle but made the start and played well: "This feels like the same team that I came in here with and got recruited for."
Running back C.J. Gable hurt his left knee near the end of the game and may -- or may not -- be out for the year, but starter Allen Bradford is also hurt. He said he played the game with a lingering left big toe sprain he suffered Wednesday, but said that was no excuse for his two fumbles on the day. Tyler (seven carries, 79 yards, one touchdown) clearly outplayed Bradford (nine carries, 27 yards), but quarterback Matt Barkley was the top performer for the Trojans once again, completing 68 percent of his passes for a school record-tying five touchdowns and no picks. "Their offense is the best we've faced," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They can do it all."
Defensively, the Trojans were much, much better than they had been at any point this season. And, truthfully, they were a little different, too. Linebackers Chris Galippo and Devon Kennard indicated that the unit was blitzing a lot more than usual, especially at the start of the game. The Bears went the first 18 minutes without gaining a first down. Said Cal quarterback Kevin Riley, asked to explain how USC dominated: "There were some things that caught us off guard up front. But they made a couple plays and we didn't. They got off to the start that we wanted."
While Riley has frequently been the culprit for a variety of poor performances over the past few years in Berkeley, the blame for Cal's dysfunctional offense Saturday went to the receivers as well. Cal's Keenan Allen, Marvin Jones and Jeremy Ross combined to drop a number of key passes as Riley completed just over 50 percent of his attempts. Said Tedford, who earned big praise from Kiffin after the game: "We had a chance to make plays but we have to catch the ball. Someone has to make a play. It's not all the quarterback's fault. It's easy to point fingers at the quarterback but everyone has to make plays."
Individuality was a big deal this week for the Trojans, with a number of players mentioning a need to take care of tasks on an individual basis in order for the team as a whole to perform well. Galippo said it first: "We came in, looked at the film and took a look at ourselves individually. We needed to focus on individual technique, and we did, and that results in great play as a team." Barkley continued: "We need to realize on both offense and defense, it's a team effort, but every individual has to do what they're supposed to do. When we focus on our own jobs, that turns into 11 guys doing the right thing. That's what the offense has done the last two weeks, and the defense did that today."
Cornerback Shareece Wright, a senior leader, hosted a defensive players-only meeting before Thursday's practice to talk over some of the issues the unit has dealt with this year. It worked, obviously. "I told them, 'I'm tired of hearing about how good our defense is not,'" Wright said Saturday. "Before the season, we were talking about how great our defense was, and now, I told them, we can't hear that anymore about our defense. I feel like the team responded very well -- the defense -- to what I talked about."
Maybe the most obvious improvement on defense for the Trojans was an immediate increase in pressure from the defensive line from the first snap of the game on. In retrospect, that appeared to be a pride thing. Said defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who recorded a tackle for a loss and hurried Riley constantly: "It's really frustrating to be talked down. Every week we've tried to brush it off and play the game we know we can play. Today I think we played that game." On that note, a number of defensive players -- Tyler, too -- said that the Trojans played a lot faster in this week's practice and thus played faster in the game.
Final notes: Cal's 42-point halftime deficit was the worst in Bears history. USC last led 42-0 at the half when it beat Washington 56-0 at the Coliseum in November 2008. ...Running back Dillon Baxter (toes), linebacker Malcolm Smith (knee), tight end Jordan Cameron (knee) and defensive end Wes Horton (back) all missed the game after not participating in any of the week's practices.
Kiffin was, with good reason, more pleased with his team's performance Saturday than after any game this season.
See what the coach had to say:
USC assistant head coach Monte Kiffin had some great comments about the Trojans' defensive play against the Bears.
See everything he had to say, including his thought-provoking remarks on increasing the simplicity of his defense for the players: