Before we move on to ASU, I want to wrap up the USC game.
I must admit, I was really worried at halftime. It seemed like we had moved the ball quite a bit, but only had a seven point lead to show for it. Dennis Dixon was amazing keeping drives going with his feet, as the SC defenders were leaving nobody open. We had drives of 39, 58, 70, and 72 yards. Unfortunately, on three of those, we were held to a field goal, and punt in our own territory, and a turnover on downs. Another part of the problems was that those four possessions were the only four that we had in the first half.
That was due to two really fluky special teams turnovers. Andre Crenshaw fumbled the opening kickoff when Andiel Brown ran into him. SC got the ball on their own 20. But our defense held, partially because SC called a moronic end around on 4th and 1 (talk about outthinking yourself). The other turnover was on a wobbly punt where Strong was going to block and had no idea that the punt hit him in the foot. SC got a field goal on that one. But in spite of the fact that SC was conrtolling the clock, and had an extremely short field to work with twice, our much maligned defense gave up only three points in the half. Yes, for as much shit as we give them (myself included), we rank third in the Pac-10 in scoring defense.
What really concerned me about the half, though, is that what we have been able to do in the past is wear the defense down and dominate the fourth quarter. Because our offense hadn't been on the field, I was worried that the SC defense had plenty of rest. Indeed, they were nowhere near tired in the fourth quarter. Our offense didn't even manage a first down in the final frame. Quite honestly, they either weren't falling for the fakes, or were just so fast that it didn't make a difference.
However, as good as SC's defense was, their offense really let them down. Two turnovers put Oregon on a really short field, and Jonathan Stewart capitalized both times.
Just as it looked like we had put it away, our defense went in prevent mode (Prevent defense is the worst concept in the history of football), and allowed SC to drive 85 yards for a score in less than a minute. Our offense then went three and out because Jaison Williams dropped a what should have been ridiculously easy catch (get some freaking glue, J-Will), and you just got that feeling of dread.
Until Matthew Harper got his second INT of the game to send us all home happy.
It was an ugly win, to be sure, but a win nonetheless. And winning is always good--especially against SC.
The defense turned in their best performance of the year, and if they can play like that, we'll be darn near impossible for most teams to beat. The running game still looks good, but the passing game is suffering. The deep vertical game is all but gone, J-Will is dropping everything, and its just not a threat right now. As BlazerProphet says in the diaries, somebody needs to step up. This Saturday would be a mighty good time for that.