by James Ellis
This game had a different feel from the rest of the season for the USC Trojans. To start the week, Head Coach Clay Helton took the play calling duties from offensive coordinator Tee Martin, and fired offensive line coach Neil Callaway. Helton has said in the past that he wanted to put an emphasis on running the ball, and tonight USC took that to heart. Aca’Cedric Ware had a monster game tonight as he ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns and USC was able to stop the Beaver offense enough to lock down a victory in Corvallis. Here are three takeaways from the victory up North:
1. When Clay Helton is calling the plays, expect a heavy dose of the run for the Trojans.
This week, Clay Helton decided that him calling plays for the USC offense was best for the rest of the season. He has always preached physicality and running the ball at USC, but this year under Martin, USC was just the opposite. Helton decided that a change of scenery was something this offense could use, and tonight, he was right. USC, from the get go, was going to run the ball until you could stop it. Ware, Carr and Malepeai combined for 355 yards as USC just ran the ball at will against the OSU defense. It makes you wonder where this philosophy has been all season as the Trojans have been looking for this sort of identity for quite some time. It is something that fans have been begging for Helton to see. Well tonight, he held up his end of the bargain.
2. This USC defensive line clamped down on the Beavers
This USC defense had a very up and down game tonight in Corvallis, but one thing that never went away was the constant pressure that this USC defense was putting on Jake Luton all night. After Artavis Pierce had a six yard touchdown run, it seemed as if Oregon State had taken the momentum back and were going to take back this game. Christian Rector and the USC defensive line had other ideas. Rector alone had 2.5 sacks, but seemed like he was in Luton’s backyard almost every play. This is the sort of night that the USC fans have been looking for. With Porter Gustin out for the rest of the season, this USC team has been looking for someone to take that leadership role and put their own stamp on this Trojan defense. Rector surely put his stamp down tonight as he and the rest of the Trojan defensive line made their mark against Oregon State. Fans would love to see this Trojan defensive line keep up this intensity for the rest of the season.
3. This is the offensive identity that USC has been looking for
Throughout this year, Tee Martin and this Trojan offense have leaned on their true freshmen quarterback to carry their offense, having a very inconsistent run game throughout the season with Martin at the helm. Helton took away his play calling duties, and tonight, a different USC team showed up. The emphasis on the run game tonight was something that the Trojan fans have been waiting to see all season. When you run the ball as well as USC did tonight, it causes the opposing defense to put more defenders into the box to stop that run. J.T. Daniels took full advantage of this shift by the Oregon State defense, as he took shots down the field throughout the night, and connecting on one to Devon Williams in the second quarter. When you have this sort of balance, you keep the defense on their heels throughout the night. With Clay Helton calling plays for the rest of the season, look for USC to maintain this sort of offensive balance for the rest of the season.