LOS ANGELES -- A look at the positives and negatives from the Trojans’ 27-9 victory over California on Saturday.
1. USC ground game: USC relied heavily upon a running game that exploded for 296 yards against the Golden Bears. Both tailbacks thrived in their increased rolls, with Silas Redd rushing for 158 yards and Curtis McNeal racking up 115 yards. Credit also needs to be given to an offensive line that looked rejuvenated with Khaled Holmes back in the lineup.
2. USC defensive line: The Trojans’ defensive line had arguably their most dominating performance of the season, completely disrupting the California passing attack and compiling a staggering seven sacks. They also helped limit a Golden Bears’ rushing attack that entered the game averaging over 200 yards a contest to just 77 yards.
3. Team resolve: Fresh off the heels of the Stanford loss, the Trojans’ ability to come together as a team when it counted most can’t be overemphasized. T.J. McDonald’s clutch interception late in the third quarter when California trailed by only eight points, and the offense’s fourteen-play fourth quarter touchdown drive to put the game away are a couple of defining moments that will help this team down the road.
1. USC passing game: For the second game in a row now, the Trojans’ passing attack underwhelmed with Matt Barkley struggling to stretch the field and throwing for just 192 yards. But it wasn’t just Barkley, there were also uncharacteristic drops by Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, and the receivers and their quarterback seemed to be generally out-of-synch throughout the contest.
2. Turnovers: Just one week after giving the ball away three times against Stanford, USC turned it over three more times against California with two Barkley interceptions and a McNeal fumble. Fortunately for the Trojans, none of the turnovers were converted for scores.
3. Penalties: USC came into the game ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with an average of nine penalties for 76.3 yards a game, and the mental errors continued on Saturday as the Trojans were flagged eight more times for 65 yards. Included in the mix was a holding call that negated a McNeal touchdown.