A look at the positives and negatives from USC’s 38-28 victory over Utah on Thursday night.
1. Matt Barkley: Returning to the stellar form that everyone grew accustomed to seeing in the last half of the 2011 season, Barkley completed 23 of 30 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. The outing marked the 12th time in his career that he threw for more than 300 yards in a game, and what was particularly impressive about this one was the way that he stretched the field.
2. USC offense: With Barkley leading the way, the Trojans racked up 432 yards of total offense, highlighted by superb performances by both star receivers in the vertical passing game, especially Marqise Lee, who finished with 12 receptions for 192 yards and one touchdown. Adding support on the ground, Silas Redd rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown.
3. Team resolve: As ugly as the opening three minutes were, the Trojans’ ability to stay composed and fight back for the victory is arguably the biggest thing they can take away from the victory as a team. With Utah leading 21-10 in the second quarter, the Trojans simply took over, scoring 28 consecutive points, while the defense hunkered down and stymied the Utah offense in the second half.
1. First-quarter start: With the Trojans looking disoriented and out of whack, things couldn’t have started out much worse. First, Utah defensive end Nate Fakahafua stripped Barkley after a skidding shotgun snap, ultimately taking it to the house. Then, on the very next drive, the center-quarterback exchange was fumbled away, with the Utes converting the turnover for their second touchdown less than three minutes into the game.
2. USC penalties: The Trojans entered the game committing an average of nine penalties a contest, and the negative trend continued on Thursday night, as they were flagged 14 times for 100 yards.
3. Xavier Grimble: Despite hauling in two passes for 16 yards, the normally sturdy Grimble had an otherwise forgettable night marked by two mental errors. First, he was flagged for a personal foul as the Trojans were driving deep in Utah territory. Then, on the same drive, he was unable to haul in a Barkley pass in the end zone. Andre Heidari would wind up missing a field goal attempt on the drive.