USC 28 – Nebraska 10

That game left me thinking of the report cards I used to get in elementary school: could do better.

So, starting with the opposition.

What worked
: Nebraska’s defensive line was very impressive. They did a good job of plugging holes and stopping SC’s running game. On the one series when Taylor was allowed to heave the ball around, he showed some skills, which leads me to…

What didn’t work: Nebraska’s coaching. I can understand that Callahan might have wanted to play conservatively to maintain possession and try to force USC to play for more passing plays, but that doesn’t work well against a team with such a good passing game. It seemed like the coaching was tying the Huskers’ hands all night; why on earth they didn’t try to air it out more to take advantage of the banged up SC secondary, and then make the Trojans play catch-up is beyond me. Also, the corners were too small to reign in Jarrett and apparently not fast enough to catch Smith.

Now for USC…

What worked: the passing game is starting to work; Jarrett was plainly back in form, barring a few dropped passes, and Smith seemed to be his usual reliable self. The defense was doing a great job of getting penetration against the run and stopping plays before they got started. Booty did a generally good job of passing the ball and avoiding interceptions, but…

What didn’t work: Near misses on the passing game. Booty got lucky with Nebraska players missing three fairly clear chances at interceptions for touch-downs, and Washington bailed him out on a drop. The running game wasn’t working well, but a lot of that has to be attributed to Nebraska’s defensive line. It’s not often that you see SC’s offensive line sucking wind at the end of the game, but the Huskers did that to them. The defense got suckered into over-committing occasionally and giving up some serious territory on option plays. Penalties… about the only thing I found funny about the last drive of the game when SC started from 1st & 20 and had Moody’s first down called back for 1st & 30, was when they ran the same play for 28 yards. Quality entertainment.

Other thoughts:

1) I wouldn’t say that Huskers were trying to injure Ryan Powdrell – that would be uncharitable — but that tackle turned out an awful lot like the 2004 Michigan – Ohio State game when Ohio State players were plainly trying to injure Braylon Edwards by gang-tackling at the knees. The result was the first replay of the year that nearly made me puke, in any case, and I hope Mr Powdrell makes a quick recovery, for his own sake.

2) I rarely find myself criticizing the play-calling of the opposition, but when Nebraska had 4th & goal and Callahan called time-out, I nearly lost it. As it turned out, the play-call was the right one, but they really shouldn’t have had to count on SC over-committing, versus just powering it over the middle. Sheesh.

Overall, it’s just as well SC has some potentially easier games coming up because they have some work to do.

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