Run and Shoot: USC Offense Scary Good

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USC Offense Scary Good

LOS ANGELES -- When the offense isn't running on all cylinders at USC, the grumbling begins. They run the ball too much. They're flat. Where's the flash of the Reggie Bush/Matt Leinart days?

Well -- those days are gone. There is no Reggie Bush on this team. But what became clear in tonight's 47-14 win over Washington State is that this offense has something special that might be just as good. All you have to do is look at the box score to see it.

Tight end Fred Davis caught nine passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Three backs carried the ball seven or more times and averaged better than five yards per carry. John David Booty was nearly perfect, connecting on 28-of-35 passes for 279 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in his only mistake of the game.

There is serious deep talent in every nook and cranny of this team, and on any night any player can break out for a big game.

Last week it was Stafon Johnson, who tallied 144 yards and a touchdown against Nebraska. Tonight it was Davis.

"It just happened to go to him," Head Coach Pete Carroll said of Davis' big game. "The reads and all that put the ball in his hands.

"We go where it's working. On one day a guy will get the ball 20 times and the other eight or nine. We're very flexible in that regard and I think it's good football."

I mean seriously. How tough is it to game plan against USC when tight end Fred Davis can bust out with 124 yards and two scores?

"It's been a long time coming," Davis said of his performance. "I felt like a wide receiver tonight."

And it's not just the individual matchups that create problems for defenders. After USC ran for 313 yards against Nebraska, people started to peg the Trojans for a running team. All they did tonight was start the first half with 25 passing plays for 191 yards compared to just 14 running plays for 55 yards. The final tally was more balanced with 35 running plays for 207 yards and 38 passing plays for 302 yards. Again -- where do you begin to try and defend an attack like that?

"We're looking for balance," Carroll said. "Last week's game was a different game... We thought we could come out and force them to have to change what they were doing. We thought that they would respond to the Nebraska game and want to get closer and load up on the run."

Carroll and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian have a ridiculous amount of options to play with and tonight's game plan showed just how effective this team can be. And I haven't even started talking about the defense, which looks outstanding as well. But I'll save that for another night.

Looking Ahead
USC heads to Seattle to face a Washington team that's down by 14 to an angry UCLA team in the fourth quarter right now. I like where Ty Willingham's going with Washington, but the Huskies aren't quite ready to compete with USC. It could be another blowout.

Washington State moves on to face another tough defensive squad in Arizona, but should have more room to run its spread offense.

Player of the Game
For all of the above reasons, this is a tough call. But I'll give the nod to Davis over Booty because he was Booty's go-to guy tonight. His breakout performance was the best of his career and gave Booty a new favorite target -- at least for tonight.

Play of the Game
Darryl Blunt's muffed snap on a punt attempt clearly wasn't the best play of the game, but it had the biggest impact. Before Blunt turned the ball over to set USC up in the red zone, Washington State was still in the game. But once the Trojans got the ball on a short field and expanded its lead to 24-7, the game became a laugher. It looks like it cost Blunt his job as well as Reid Forrest took over punting duties for the rest of the game.

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