LOS ANGELES — The last matchup between USC and Stanford in the Pac-12 took place on Saturday as the Trojans won 56-10 after another dominant performance from Caleb Williams. Here are three takeaways from the game:
Caleb Williams preaches consistency during the week in practice
After winning two blowout games, USC looked to capitalize against Stanford with the dangerous offense behind Caleb Williams. The talk during this past week has been on Caleb’s father, Carl Williams, who talked to GQ about his son’s future decision on possibly staying at school one more year. Williams deflected all NFL questions during the media session available on Wednesday.
He was only focused on facing Stanford and said the most important thing moving forward is consistency on the field. The offense and defense seemed to be on the same page to start the game with two touchdowns and one interception in the first 6 minutes. It’s amazing to see how Williams distributes the ball as his offense stacks up a total of 204 yards in the first quarter. Austin Jones and MarShawn Lloyd both rushed for a touchdown in the beginning of the game. “Tahj Washington is a special player even when he makes things difficult on the field”, says Caleb Williams during his podcast “Almost Pro”. He talked about how talented he is but says there are moments when he could make things easier for himself as he laughs it off during the podcast.
Williams only played in the second half of the game as USC was up 49-3. The magician is out there making plays look unreal during the blowout game. He finished the night on 19-22, 281-yards and 3 touchdowns for the Heisman winner.
It’s time to Branch out of this world
Zachariah Branch is ridiculous when you talk about how good he is. The speed this kid has is explosive and it’s beautiful watching him run across the field with the crowd cheering him on. He brings lots of electric energy on the field and the vision he has when running with the ball is beautiful. Branch had a 96-yard return against San Jose State, then had a 75-yard return on Saturday.
Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill was in attendance as his team is playing the Chargers on Sunday afternoon. Hill said “I may not be the fastest guy on this field right now”, as he compares himself to Branch. He is so electric on the field that I even questioned why teams continue to kick the ball towards him. The way he cuts inside the field and breaking tackles away, it really shows his strength and mentality for a young player like himself.
After three games for Branch, the 5’10 freshman from Las Vegas has raised lots of eyes brows around college football. Going back to what Williams said, “Consistency”, is key for everyone moving forward in order to end the season the way they imagined, holding the National Championship trophy.
How the Grinch stole Stanford’s offense
USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch deserves major credit for the adjustments he has made through the first three games. They allowed 28 points against San Jose State and 14 last Saturday against Nevada. It took Stanford until the end of the second quarter to make some noise. Ashton Daniels, quarterback for Stanford, has continued to give this defense trouble by staying on his feet. USC defense held strong together in the red zone as they forced a false start and held them to a field goal.
Stanford scored 37 points last week against the Rainbow Warriors as they didn’t seem like the same team on Saturday. USC safety Calen Bullock shut down Stanford on a 4th & goal play in the third quarter to avoid giving up points on defense. Both sides of the ball played consistently all game long, which was Williams’ message to the media during Wednesday’s practice. Grinch has to continue to push this team to a higher level once they start playing teams like Colorado and Notre Dame.
Most people can talk and say they haven’t played a real team who can test them on the field, but to be honest, I don’t think there is a team that can really test this offense, maybe the defense. Jaylin Smith has been a machine for USC as he leads the team in tackles alongside Bryson Shaw and Solomon Byrd, who are a force together on defense.
The defense had some inconsistent stretches through the first two games but they stepped up huge against Stanford.
Biggest question for USC’s defense right now is going to be all about minimizing on missed coverages and containing the run against their opponents. They have improved on defense in the first three games. The Trojans will be away from home on their next game in two weeks, as they get a bye this upcoming weekend, then face Arizona State.