Ducking a Bullet
USC survived their toughest test of the season, and burst past Oregon 45-13 after playing a lousy first half. USC is clearly the most talented team in the country, but if they want to avoid these kinds of mini-scares, then the Trojans need to make a few minor changes. USC isn't getting LenDale White involved enough in the offense, and instead is over-using Reggie Bush. When Oregon jumped ahead early thanks to two turnovers, USC hit the panic button and seemingly tried to use Bush in every play, or go deep to Dwayne Jarrett or Steve Smith. That might have worked every play against Arkansas and Hawaii, but not every team is a pushover.
USC should have slowed down the pace of the game with White, who is as good as any power back in college football. White would have worn down the Duck defense, and freed up some of the passes to Jarrett and Smith that just weren't there in the first and second quarter. As it was, USC eventually broke down the Oregon defense by the second half, but the Trojans could have prevented the Duck breakout much sooner had they simply tried to slow the game down. The Trojans don't need to go for the juggular every play. Last year, with Norm Chow calling plays, White got more carries than Bush. Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian should remember that. Bush is a special player, but he's less valuable if he's used every play. It may seen trivial now, but it might make a difference later in the season.
As for the rest of the game, the USC defense really stepped up. While Oregon isn't much of a running team, the Trojans did a fantastic job of containing the run. Their defensive line did an excellent job of pressuring Kellen Clemens. Darnell Bing is probably the best safety in the country, but USC needs its corners to get healthy. They won't get lucky every week and see Clemens throwing the ball near Bing all the time.
Next week, USC has Arizona State on the road. The Sun Devils have a better offense than the Ducks, but their defense isn't that great. Tempe is also an easier place to play than Eugene. Expect another wide-margin victory for the Trojans.