Saturday’s victory was John Robinson’s 99th in two stints at USC. If the Trojans defeat Nevada Las Vegas next week at the Coliseum, Robinson will post his 100th win faster (fourth game of his 12th season) than all but six coaches in history.
There’s one streak USC will not have to worry about. The Trojans’ victory made sure the team will not go 0-3 for the first time since 1960 or challenge the 0-5 start of Don Clark’s 1957 team.
Before Saturday’s loss, California quarterback Justin Vedder had won 19 consecutive games--his last 17 at Saddleback Community College and his first two this season.
“I don’t like losing much,” Vedder said, “but in life you lose. It’s about how you respond, and how you come back.”
Cal receiver Bobby Shaw, who began the game as the nation’s leading receiver, finished with five catches for 98 yards and one touchdown. He has caught 22 touchdown passes in 19 starts for the Golden Bears.
USC receiver Mike Bastianelli said the Trojans should not get too excited about their first win.
“I don’t think we are over the hump yet,” he said. “We are still 1-2, but this is a big victory for us because it is our first victory, it’s not because we beat Cal. We’re stepping in the right direction.
“Everybody starts to develop their own opinion why the team is losing. You’re just tired of hearing it because they don’t know what’s going on, only the team knows what’s going on. We’re still 1-2 and by no stretch of the imagination are we back in anything.”
First-year Cal Coach Tom Holmoe said his team is not yet good enough to come back from a 27-3 halftime deficit.
“Spotting USC that many points early is tough,” he said. “USC is too good of a team, too well coached to not want to battle back, and they did. Offensively, we couldn’t string together first downs. Defensively, early on, we gave up too many big plays. We made too many mistakes to win this game.”
Hue Jackson, the Trojans’ offensive coordinator, had the same job at Cal last season and was hugging Cal players and coaches before the game.
He got to leave the field happy too, after a win that will lessen the criticism the offense has been taking.
One small change was obvious: Jackson called plays from the field instead of the press box at Robinson’s request.
“I liked it a lot,” quarterback John Fox said. “Our two losses weren’t because he was upstairs, but it’s good that he’s down there. He has a lot of energy.”