USC beats Colorado, 48-41, but concerns remain about the Trojans’ defense

The Trojans started off strong and dominated play early but the Buffaloes came back and came within a touchdown in the end.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams had a career day at Colorado, passing for over 400 yards and 6 touchdowns, as the Trojans took a 48-21 lead with about one minute left in the third quarter before the defense collapsed and gave up three touchdowns. While USC is 5-0 to start the season, there are serious concerns about the team’s defense.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Is it possible for Alex Grinch to maintain consistency with his defensive strategy?

Despite the Trojans securing another win, their defense remains a significant concern for the future. USC must acknowledge the importance of maintaining consistency on both sides of the ball. The defense has exhibited uninspired performances in back-to-back games, allowing a total of 69 points. It is time for the team to wake up and address these issues. Alex Grinch recognized the need to reassess the defense before heading to Boulder.

Mason Cobb returned last week after missing the previous two games, he only had one tackle in Tempe and had two in the first drive for Colorado. There were multiple opportunities for the Trojans to get stops but allowed Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders to make magical plays on the field. USC had this game in the bag and secured while leading 41-14 in the third quarter. Moments later, they had another costly missed tackle as Omarion Miller turned a short reception into a 65-yard gain and set up an eventual 2-yard rushing touchdown by Anthony Hankerson.

The game came down to an onside kick as it was recover by USC but the confidence level from Colorado coach Deion Sanders was high.

“If we got that ball last, we were going to go score,” he said. “We knew that.”

He knew he had broken the defense in the second half but luckily the Trojans did not give him the ball last. USC safety Bryson Shaw had the opportunity to get a big stop on 4th down late in the game but allowed a great catch by Miller.

“We’re letting him down. He’s putting us in the right spots, we’re not making plays. We’re missing tackles. We’re not doing our job, I’m not doing my job. We’re letting him down,” Shaw said about USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.

USC’s defense gave up 564 yards to Colorado, which is the most yards they have allowed since Lincoln Riley became head coach. The Trojans had not allowed more than 400 yards as a defense this season.

Riley doesn’t believe the defensive issues are the same as last year but in order to compete for a national championship, they have to improve. Riley was asked after the game if he still has the same faith in Grinch as USC’s defensive coordinator and he said simply, “Yes, I do.”

Caleb Williams delivered yet another magnificent performance on the biggest stage of the season

Williams had six touchdowns in the game, which was tied for his career high. USC has scored on their first five drives this season, which let’s you know how good this offense is.

The reigning Heisman winner is always scanning the field and looking for his teammates as he usually has opportunities to run for a big gain. He connected with Tahj Washington in the first quarter for 71 yards and it was due to his patience and vision. In the first half, Williams threw four touchdowns to four different receivers.

Brenden Rice had five catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns as he made his return to Colorado where he spent his first two years playing.

Despite the defense’s shortcoming, the offense might be the best in the country

USC has so many offensive weapons that they didn’t miss the absence of Zachariah Branch, who might be the fastest and most exciting player in the country. In his absence, other players stepped up. Brenden Rice, who has been performing exceptionally well since last week, scored two touchdowns and is now leading the team with seven touchdowns this season.

Tahj Washington had a great day with eight receptions including a 71-yard catch for a touchdown. Washington has been consistent with his production all season, with five touchdown catches this season. Despite the team’s defense inconsistency, this offense is the best in college football.

Williams threw six touchdowns as the USC offense was rolling through three quarters before they were held scoreless in the fourth quarter. Washington scored a touchdown and gained 117 yards, while Rice added two touchdowns on five catches. Running back MarShawn Lloyd also performed well, averaging 6.5 yards per carry but only ran the ball 13 times.

Williams completed passes to ten different receivers and primarily thrived in the intermediate game. In five games, Williams has been exceptional, arguably better than his Heisman Trophy season. The only question is whether USC can get back into national contention with their weak defense.

Saturday’s win at Colorado brings USC’s record to a perfect 5-0 for the season, but they still have tough games ahead against Notre Dame, Oregon, and Washington.