LOS ANGELES — The USC Trojans blew out Nevada, 66-14, at the Coliseum on Saturday as Caleb Williams once again looked like the favorite to repeat as the Hesiman Trophy winner this year.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Caleb Williams elevates the offense to another level
In the first drive of the game, the Trojans offense looked to be on the same page, as Caleb Williams certainly made things look simple. Williams completed all four attempts for 84-yards in his first drive with a touchdown catch by Zachariah Branch.
Last weekend was a spectacular game by Branch and during the week in practice, he was very humble after his performance and talked about how his life changed. As a freshman, it can be tough to maintain consistency after a game like that. The way he conducts himself at 19 years old is so much more mature than older players. He came by to every single media member to introduce himself after practice on Wednesday and was very humble talking to media.
Caleb Williams ties school’s record of 11, 4-TD games and it took him 31 games less than former Trojan QB Matt Barkley. Through the first two games, Williams has thrown for 36/49, 597 passing yards, 42 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. Even though he played excellent tonight, Lincoln Riley said after the game that there is still room for improvement for Caleb.
Defense improves without key players in the line-up
Even though two big time defensive players in Mason Cobb and Eric Gentry did not play, Coach Riley mentioned it is nothing long term so we can expect them back on the field soon. Other players were given the opportunity to step up when needed; Shane Lee made huge plays all night and took advantage of the opportunity. Outside of the first drive for the Wolf Pack, USC’s defensive was outstanding by only allowing 49 rushing yards all game long.
Jamil Muhammad with a clutch take down on the quarterback on 3rd & 13 in the first quarter, which saved the Trojans during that drive. The defense went on to have four consecutive three-and-outs, which was surprising to see after they allowed Nevada to score on four plays prior to the stops. A performance like this shows that the team is all about getting better every week. USC only allowed a touchdown in the first quarter and another in the fourth.
Freshman Tackett Curtis was ejected in the second quarter after getting called for targeting. The secondary has been an issue so far as Domani Jackson was the defender on Nevada’s both huge catches that were converted for 70 plus yards each. More adjustments will be made during practice as players will most likely return to the line up and prepare for Stanford.
Pick your poison with the offense
This team has a dynamic set of skill players who can do damage on the offense, like Zachariah Branch. The caliber of players that wear a USC uniform, know what it means to wear it. Branch is giving USC fans flashbacks of Reggie Bush on the field which is amazing to see. The charisma he brings on and off the field is special, but it’s something that most athletes that play in Los Angeles need to have.
Marshawn Lloyd got involved in the offense early on in the first half and he continued making plays throughout the game. Austin Jones did not see much playing time as he only had two carries in the game. We can see that Jones and Lloyd are going to be competing for the most time this year. Last weekend Jones had a great game against San Jose St by scoring two touchdowns. Lloyd is versatile as he can play in the slot and that can definitely provide him more time on the field moving forward.
Backup quarterback Miller Moss entered the game in the middle of the third quarter and kept the foot on the pedal for the remaining part of the game. He connected with Duce Robinson for a 71-yard touchdown, which is his first touchdown of his college career. USC RB Quinten Joyner rushed for a 47-yard touchdown run to make it a 59-14 lead late in the fourth quarter. Let’s not forget that the defense also got a touchdown after a fumble recovery by Stanley Ta’ufo’ou.
The offense stacked up 668 yards, which is the most since Lincoln Riley arrived at USC. Players like Dorian Singer, Michael Jackson III, Tahj Washington, Austin Jones, Mario Williams, Zachariah Branch and MarShawn Lloyd are so dynamic on the field.