Opener goes as expected

Times Staff Writer


Looking back at USC’s 38-10 victory over Idaho.

As expected: USC controlled the game, rushed the ball against the smaller Vandals and the Trojans’ first-team defense limited Idaho to a field goal for an outcome that was decided the day the contract between the schools was signed.

John David Booty passed for three touchdowns and was protected well by the offensive line, sophomore tailback Stafon Johnson showed the tenacity he displayed throughout training camp and fullback Stanley Havili infused the offense as a runner, blocker and receiver.

Unexpected: A game-time decision to hold out veteran Patrick Turner forced Booty to work with a group of split ends and flankers that began the game with only one college reception between them. Booty struggled at times, but sophomore Vidal Hazelton impressed in a starting role despite sitting out much of training camp because of a groin problem. Redshirt freshman David Ausberry got his feet wet with five catches and senior Brad Walker caught the first two passes of his career.


The Trojans recorded only two sacks. They recovered a fumble but lost the turnover battle, 3-1.

Stepped up: There are reasons why no true freshman had started a game at center for USC, too much responsibility being only one. But with Matt Spanos out because of a torn triceps, Kristofer O’Dowd made history and showed he was anything but intimidated. O’Dowd flawlessly handled snaps, protected Booty and helped the Trojans rush for 214 yards.

Hazelton’s one-handed touchdown catch was highlight-video material and sophomore cornerback Shareece Wright also made several impressive plays.

Stepped back: No single player on a first-unit defense that gave up only three points will find his job in jeopardy, but the Trojans created only one turnover and failed to get enough pressure on redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Enderle.

Coach quote: Pete Carroll said, “The [pass] coverage was generally pretty good. We took a couple too many chances, risk-taking a little bit more than we need to. I like that the guys were stretching in an attempt to make things happen. It didn’t hurt us in that game. We can learn from that and grow.”

Injury report: Freshman running back Broderick Green, who missed the Idaho game because of a stress fracture in his foot, will have surgery Tuesday, Carroll said. Linebacker Brian Cushing suffered a sprained ankle and will be held out this week with the hope that he will be ready for Nebraska on Sept. 15. Turner (neck) is expected to play against the Cornhuskers, but Carroll said cornerback Josh Pinkard (knee) will be monitored. Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez (thumb) will try to throw passes this week and freshman running back Marc Tyler (leg) is cleared for limited practice.


Fast forward

Looking ahead to the Sept. 15 game at Nebraska.

First look: The Cornhuskers opened with a 52-10 victory over Nevada, a game in which former North Hollywood High standout Marlon Lucky rushed for 233 yards.

Quarterback Sam Keller, a transfer from Arizona State, made his Cornhuskers debut and completed 14 of 25 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown with one interception.

Topic of the week: Nebraska came to the Coliseum last season and Coach Bill Callahan seemingly played as if to keep the score close rather than going for a victory.

USC will spend this week healing and shoring up mistakes that could cost them against what figures to be a more wide open Cornhuskers approach with Keller at the controls. In 2005, Keller helped Arizona State to a 21-3 first-half lead against the Trojans. He fell apart in the second half after fist-pumping the crowd at Sun Devil Stadium on his way to the locker room at the break.


Season log

Sept. 1

USC 38, Idaho 10

USC stalls, sputters at times, but still overpowers Vandals.


Sept. 15

at Nebraska

Cornhuskers looked very, very Lucky against Nevada.


Sept. 22

Washington State

Cougars could not stop Wisconsin passing game.


Sept. 29

at Washington

QB Jake Locker impressed in debut against Syracuse.


Oct. 6


Maybe UCLA is the greatest team in college football history?


Oct. 13


Brigham Young made Arizona’s offense look like Mildcats.


Oct. 20

at Notre Dame

Might be Weis to start game-planning now for USC.


Oct. 27

at Oregon

Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon drove Houston batty.


Nov. 3

Oregon State

Beavers start off strong against Utah.


Nov. 10

at California

DeSean Jackson no longer seeking volunteers for Heisman campaign.


Nov. 22

at Arizona State

Dennis Erickson factor already in full effect.


Dec. 1


If season ended today, Bruins win Pac-10.