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September 12, 2004Tailback Reggie Bush absorbed all of the headlines against Virginia Tech, but his running mate LenDale White stole the show on Saturday. His 123-yards on 14 carries including three touchdowns got USC going on the ground. The Trojans finished with 322 rushing yards, the most for a USC squad in 14 years.
White is originally from Colorado and was recruited heavily by Colorado State. This wasn't a case of a player wanting revenge on a team that didn't recruit him, but White gave the Rams something to think all the same.
With the effort, LenDale White was named the player of the game. Equaling the three touchdowns by Reggie Bush in the opener, White provided some thunder to complement Bush's lightning. There might be some question marks on the line and with the receivers, but a better tandem of tailbacks does not exist in college football.
Oh, and these guys are both sophomores.
The Trojan offense was a little more traditional on Saturday and used their tailbacks as tailbacks instead of receivers. Matt Leinart's numbers were not as good as his first game, but he showed much more confidence in his receivers who are slowly but surely getting more comfortable on the field.
Steve Smith and Chris McFoy both made some big plays, something that was lacking against Virginia Tech. Freshman Dwayne Jarrett turned 18 but looked nervous out there and dropped four balls. Trojan fans did get a glimpse of what Jarrett looks like in practice when he leaped high in the air against three defenders to snag his first career touchdown pass.
Some members of the media were still critical of the offensive line play in the game, but with the most rushing yards in recent memory and no sacks on Matt Leinart, the front five performed admirably. Leinart did take off and run more than usual, but he still had tons of time and picked his spots when receivers were covered to tuck it and bolt.
Maybe the most telling stat was in the first half with the Trojans went in for their third touchdown. On seven straight plays USC achieved either a first down or a touchdown, a streak that spanned three drives. Simply put, the offense was clicking, even without all of their pieces in place. Imagine the addition of tight end Dominique Byrd to stretch the field. As good as things are now, they will only get better.
Ho hum, another day at the office for Pete Carroll and the Trojan defense. For the 5th time in Carroll's 4-year career the Trojans have shutout an opponent. At least one time per season Carroll has managed to blank someone, and it only took two games in 2004 to do it again.
Two areas the Trojan defense focused on this week were taking the ball away and shutting down the passing attack. The Rams had decent numbers throwing the ball, but fell far short of the 400+ yards they had against Colorado. The real killer was the turnovers, 6 in all including two interceptions by Matt Grootegoed and one fumble recovery for a touchdown by Manuel Wright.
The only two concerns I had after the game were the success of receiver David Anderson and the lack of sacks from the talented front four. Anderson worked his way open and made a lot of great catches to keep the Rams offense moving. He finished with a team high 9 catches for 137 yards.
USC ended with four sacks, including one that resulted in a touchdown, but only one of those were in the first three quarters before the Trojan reserves were worked into the game.
With no Beamer Ball to contend with and a lopsided score most of the contest, there wasn't much pressure put on the special teams Saturday. Kicker Ryan Killeen was perfect on his seven PATs and did not attempt a field goal. Punter Tom Malone didn't get much work and averaged about 43 yards per punt.
Colorado State did have over 110 yards in kickoff returns but only managed to return one punt for a single yard. The biggest mistake was the punt return fumble by Greig Carlson.
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