Mustain springs into action
Cardinal and Gold collided before an estimated 15,000 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. After four quarters of football, the spring session officially came to a close, while opening expectations for the fall. It was USC’s opportunity to place its star filled roster on public display. But on this day, some that often stood in the shadows stepped forward to shine the brightest.
Depending on which half you were viewing, you either felt a sick feeling in your stomach from watching a “here we go again offense” or felt somewhat naked from your secondary being exposed. The game ended with a final score of 54-30 (depending on your scoring format) in favor of the offense. But if we strictly scored by halves, it was played to a 1-1 tie.
“So obviously a tale of two different halves. The first half was defensively dominated, more than any other practice or scrimmage had been. I thought the front seven was especially dominant on defense in the first half. And then I thought the offense played terrible. You know we told the players at halftime that they were going to take their scholarship checks and give them back to the fans that turned out today, because that was an embarrassing performance.”–Lane Kiffin
The defense displayed their might in that first half, before taking a step back in the second. The offense was disrupted by the pressure and quickness before the break, but found more time and space before the day ended. Shareece Wright flaunted his shutdown skills, breaking up 3 passes thrown in his direction, and recording 5 tackles. Michael Morgan led all Trojans with 7 tackles for the day.
Matt Barkley threw for just one touchdown in this game, before being pulled with a hand injury sustained when his throwing hand struck the helmet of the oncoming Jurrell Casey. The early report is just a bruise, and the sophomore quarterback said he would have stayed on the field in a real game situation. Jurrell Casey was ejected from the scrimmage for the hit on his quarterback. The final total for Barkley was 7 of 16 for 87 yards, as the offense exploded elsewhere.
Mitch Mustain did everything offensively on Saturday. The Trojan backup threw five touchdown passes, airing it out for a total of 299 yards. What he didn’t do with his arm, he did with his legs, tucking the rock and sprinting forward to extend drives. And before it was all said and done, the kid from Arkansas also added a reception to his body of work, catching a pass from Dillion Baxter on a trick play. This was the second consecutive scrimmage where Mustain walked away with the greater numbers.
Allen Bradford powered his way to a couple of good runs on the afternoon, as did Marc Tyler. But Dillon Baxter continues to be the rising star in the Trojans backfield. Baxter is making it a habit to bring the crowd to its feet, and he failed to disappoint today, breaking off a 58 yarder that left them in awe. The freshman’s 129 yards on 13 carries led the team.
The absence of Ronald Johnson may have contributed to Barkley’s deflated stats, but Travon Patterson stepped up his game to the tune of 5 receptions, 101 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. Stanley Havili’s 129 yards led the team in receiving, and the fullback found the end zone five times.
Any concerns, based on this scrimmage, may be in the secondary and in the offensive trench. Those two areas would be my selection as points of weakness. This scrimmage, like those preceding, also came without kickoffs or punts. But for the first time this spring, there were field goals attempted.