|USC Legends News|
Defense, Washington keyed USC win
As expected: Despite some over-pursuit issues, USC's defense gave the Trojans a chance to win by holding Cal to 14 points below its scoring average.
USC thought it could run against the Golden Bears and Chauncey Washington made the coaches look prophetic with 220 yards.
The Trojans moved up one spot in the Associated Press media poll and six spots to 11th in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
"We're right in the middle of an opportunity to at least position ourselves so we can make a statement here at the end of the year," Coach Pete Carroll said Sunday.
Unexpected: USC moved away from the tailback-by-committee approach and put the ball almost exclusively in Washington's hands. Even the most ardent supporters of a single-back concept, however, could not have predicted Washington's career-best effort.
Late in the first quarter, the Trojans had fourth and one at Cal's 47, a staple situation in which Carroll routinely opts to go for it rather than punt. As perhaps a sign of acceptance that this is not 2003-06, Carroll kicked.
Stepped up: Washington powered through the line and darted and dashed across the slippery turf with help from an offensive line that also did not give up a sack.
Stafon Johnson gained only nine yards in seven carries, but his extra effort on a key third-down play in the fourth quarter kept the game-clinching, clock-killing drive alive.
Cornerback Terrell Thomas intercepted a pass for the second consecutive game and forced a fumble on a sack. He also was a key member of a punt-coverage unit that held DeSean Jackson in check with help from punter Greg Woidneck.
Ronald Johnson gave the Trojans excellent field position with long kickoff returns.
Stepped back: The Trojans, penalized only four times the week before against Oregon State, reverted to their troubling ways and were flagged eight times for 40 yards. No word on whether Carroll will start lobbying the Pacific 10 Conference for relief, uh, equality, as he did before the Oregon State game.
An offsides penalty against defensive end Kyle Moore negated a fumble recovery by the Trojans in the second quarter. A holding penalty against center Matt Spanos in the fourth quarter nullified a play-action pass from John David Booty to Patrick Turner for 33 yards.
Carroll on the tailback situation: "We'll stay with the way we always go about it and see what happens."
John David Booty tried only 20 passes, none of which were intercepted despite constant rain.
"He did fine, I thought, under those circumstances," Carroll said. "He missed the one opening, a big shot with [wide receiver Johnson], but all in all he handled himself pretty well."
Carroll, however, was disappointed that Cal's Justin Forsett was able to rush the ball so effectively (164 yards in 31 carries). The wet conditions affected tackling by both teams, but Carroll said the Trojans misread several plays.
"We made some just uncharacteristic mistakes on some really easy things and probably gave them 60 yards of stuff that was just there to be nailed," Carroll said. "They weren't complicated schemes."
Injury report: Linebacker Keith Rivers suffered a high ankle sprain and might be doubtful for Arizona State, Carroll said.
Linebacker Clay Matthews suffered a broken bone in his hand but will probably play with a cast.
Carroll said offensive lineman Sam Baker wants to play against Arizona State, but the condition of his torn hamstring will be evaluated over the next 10 days.
Looking ahead to the game vs. No. 9Arizona State (Nov. 22, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz., 5 p.m., ESPN).
First look: With Oregon up to No. 2 in the BCS standings, the outcome of this Thanksgiving Day game could determine a spot in the Rose Bowl, barring a loss by the winner in its season-ending rivalry game.
Arizona State has lost only to Oregon. The Sun Devils are coming off a 24-20 victory over UCLA.
Topic of the week: The Trojans will practice four times, but will back off on the intensity of their hitting.
"We're going to practice in a little different mode to make sure we get a lot done but give our guys a chance to recuperate," Carroll said.
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