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USC rewind & fast forward

October 01, 2007|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Looking back at No. 2 USC's 27-24 victory over Washington:

Rewind

As expected: The Trojans rushed the ball effectively against a Washington defense that had gotten progressively worse against the run in each of its previous four games.

Sophomore Stafon Johnson averaged nearly nine yards a carry. He slipped four tackles during a flashy 45-yard run, and finished with 122 yards and a touchdown in 14 carries before suffering a late foot injury. Senior Chauncey Washington, who started for the second week in a row, also scored and eclipsed the 100-yard mark (he had 106) by breaking free for a 53-yard gain.

USC's defense was too fast and experienced for Washington quarterback Jake Locker.

The redshirt freshman will be a star, but he needs Coach Tyrone Willingham to land some complementary playmakers.

Unexpected: Losing an offensive lineman to injury is no surprise. But what were the odds that center Kris O'Dowd and guard Chilo Rachal would suffer knee injuries on the same play?

Or that the Trojans would be called for 16 penalties? The 161 penalty yards were only 29 fewer than Washington managed in total offense.

Quarterback John David Booty appeared to have gotten on track against Washington State, but he struggled against the Huskies. Receivers did not help his rhythm when they dropped passes or fell down on routes.

Tailback C.J. Gable, whose playing time had diminished in the previous two games, did not play because of a lingering groin injury, a move that could portend surgery and allow him to seek a medical redshirt.

Stepped up: Coach Pete Carroll took Matt Spanos to Seattle hoping to work him in for a few plays. The senior center, after all, had not even been in serious contact drills because of a torn triceps suffered before the season opener.

Spanos, however, played nearly the entire game after O'Dowd went down. He had some miscues, but for the most part he played well under tough circumstances.

Johnson, as noted, showed his performance against Nebraska was no fluke. Thomas Williams started at strongside linebacker and intercepted a pass.

Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga avoided over-pursuing and finished with 10 tackles. Freshman Ronald Johnson returned three kickoffs without error, one for 31 yards.

Stepped back: The Trojans collectively fell from No. 1 to No. 2 in the Associated Press media poll after their mistake-filled performance.

Booty's Heisman Trophy campaign, jump-started by his performance against Washington State, went dark after the senior had two passes intercepted and misfired on many others Saturday.

Booty's completion percentage (20 for 37, 54%) was his worst since becoming the starter last season.

Coach's quote: Carroll: "It has no bearing on anything for us," he said of the drop to No. 2 in the AP rankings. "It didn't before and it doesn't now.

"The reason it happened is the way we played, I guess."

Carroll said he would ask the Pacific 10 Conference to review some of the penalties that were assessed against the Trojans.

"It wasn't anything we didn't do in practice, but we have to do something in practice to keep it from happening again," he said.

Injury report: O'Dowd's dislocated kneecap could keep him out for two or three weeks, according to Carroll. Spanos will start in his place.

Rachal's knee sprain could force him to miss Saturday's game against Stanford and possibly more. Alatini Malu, Zack Heberer and Thomas Herring will compete for the spot.

Cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) will probably miss at least one game. Cary Harris (shoulder) might return this week. If not, Mozique McCurtis would probably start.

Johnson (foot) was in a protective boot Sunday and is awaiting results from an MRI exam. Gable will be examined this week.

Looking ahead to the game vs. Stanford (Saturday, Coliseum, 4 p.m. Versus).

Fast forward

First look: Poor Stanford.

The Cardinal, coming off a 41-3 loss to Arizona State, for the second year in a row plays the Trojans with USC intent on re-establishing order after a poor performance in the Northwest.

Last season, USC rebounded from a loss at Oregon State by trouncing Stanford, 42-0, in Palo Alto.

And that was before Jim Harbaugh took over as Stanford's coach and predicted this would be Carroll's last season at USC.

Topic of the week: Harbaugh's off-season comments about Carroll, and his Pac-10 media day comments about the Trojans -- "There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football" -- will provide plenty of fodder and laughs, but USC has more serious issues to address.

Booty and his receivers need to get back on track, the Trojans must reduce penalties and injured starters must heal in time for the second half of the season.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Season log (4-0)

Idaho (1-4); Won, 38-10.

at then-No. 14 Nebraska (4-1): Won 49-31.

Washington State (2-3, 0-2 in Pac-10): Won, 47-14.

Washington (2-3, 0-2): Won, 27-24; Trojans survive 16 penalties, two interceptions, a fumble and a blocked punt to win, but Louisiana State jumps to No. 1 in AP poll.

Saturday, Stanford (1-3, 0-3); Cardinal was last team to beat USC at the Coliseum. Not much to be optimistic about, though. That was in 2001.

Oct. 13: Arizona (2-3, 1-1)

Oct. 20: at Notre Dame (0-5)

Oct. 27: at Oregon (4-1, 1-1)

Nov. 3: Oregon State (2-3, 0-2)

Nov. 10: at California (5-0, 2-0)

Nov. 22: at Arizona St. (5-0, 2-0)

Dec. 1: UCLA (4-1, 3-0)

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