Beavers take the run game to Trojans

A week ago, the USC football team traveled up to Washington State and knocked the bunions off the Cougars in the team’s first game under interim head coach Donte Williams after Clay Helton was let go. The high of that Trojans’ win was tossed out of the window against Oregon State.

So, after being knocked around by the Stanford Cardinal in an embarrassing defeat at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Williams and the Trojans returned to their home turf. The welcome mat was not a good one as Oregon State put a stark reality check on the football program.

The Beavers didn’t just push USC around, they hammered the Trojans on the ground, running up a tally of 322 yards rushing the football in a convincing 45-27 win.

“Tonight just wasn’t our night,” Williams said after the game. “Oregon State tonight, they outcoached us and outplayed us. It will all get fixed, I promise you that. Our whole message is to make sure we go 1-0 and today we did not, we went 0-1.”

Photo credit: John McGillen/USC Athletics

Williams continued, “So we have to make sure that we learn from this and come out tomorrow and keep building. It’s a long season. I don’t know how many games it was today, but I assume it was about 50 games and 25 teams lost, we just happen to be one of them. Our whole message is that we have to change that next week.”

That’s two coaches. Two straight lopsided home losses. Oregon State racked up 535 yards in total. The Trojans came through with 431 yards, but that was not nearly enough to keep the Beavers from pulling off an upset win against the Trojans. Upset wins have become a running theme for USC in the last two home games.

It’s not a good look for the Trojans. Asked if Oregon State did anything to catch him or his team off guard, Williams had an emphatic answer.

“No, I mean you know they go into a run game, you know that they build up to the next level and you know their O-line was big, fast and physical; you knew that. You knew they had a great running back that was probably gonna be one of the better running backs we see all season.

“And you knew that the quarterback was a smart football player, and they ran their offense to the T,” Williams added. “Their offensive coordinator is a really good coach. They had a game plan and once they got a lead it was hard to stop them once they get the lead.”

John McGillen/USC Athletics

In the first half, the two teams played pretty even though Oregon State walked into their locker room at halftime with a narrow 21-17 edge. The third quarter is what changed the complexity of the game. The Beavers scored 14 points in the quarter and blanked the Trojans to take full command of the contest.

“I’m excited for those guys in that locker room,” Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith said. “I thought they came down here focused and confident, and played well enough to win the game. We talked about it all week that we wanted to make it physical and I thought we did that, especially on the offensive front running the ball. We’ve got plenty to clean up, but it’s big-time when you win on the road to open conference play.”

After a great way to open Pac-12 Conference play with their road victory against Washington State, the Trojans have dropped two conference games at home. While Oregon State running backs were running around and through USC defenders on their way to a monster night, the Trojans rushing attack was almost non-existent.

USC gained a net of 76 yards on the ground. Oregon State running back B.J. Baylor outgained the Trojans himself, rushing to a game-high 158 yards.

“The offensive line, they played their butt off today,” Baylor said. “They did what they were supposed to do. They were pushing the line of scrimmage and everything was just opening up.”

The more Oregon State’s offensive pushed, the more the Trojans’ defensive line relented. USC safety Isaiah Pola-Mao said it wasn’t of what the Trojans were not doing, it was a matter of what the Beavers were able to do.

“I think Oregon State had a good game plan for us today, and we didn’t make the adjustments,” remarked Pola-Mao. “Honestly, our defense relies on making our plays. We put people in one-on-one positions, and they just made their plays better than us. We’ll get back to work tomorrow.”

Featured Image Caption/Credit: John McGillen/USC Athletics