Trojans take shorter route for win

first_img And Leinart delivered some critical comments of the current offense during an otherwise nondescript 51-24 rout of lowly Washington in front of 64,096 at Husky Stadium. Leinart praised the decision to go back to Chow’s preferred method of short, quick passes instead of the deeper balls that defined the first six games. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “We did the things we’ve done best the last couple of years,” Leinart said. “Sometimes we want to beat defenses right away and we don’t get in a rhythm. We do that instead of going with the three-step (dropback) stuff, the things we do best the last couple years.” He then added, “I just fell back on track. You finally establish a rhythm with completions by dumping the ball off and getting 10 yards. The first two games we did whatever we wanted and in a way, we got away from the stuff that got us here.” After weeks of less-than-Leinart-like performances, the Heisman Trophy winner completed 20 of 26 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns. OK, it was against Washington (1-6, 0-4) but even his teammates acknowledged the wisdom of returning to Chow’s philosophy. “We went back to the stuff that put us in this position and got us here in the first place,” tailback LenDale White said. Receiver Steve Smith, who along with receiver Dwayne Jarrett benefited most from the home-run attack, admitted, “It gets the quarterback more in sync and confident when he can dink the ball.” SEATTLE – That breeze blowing into Husky Stadium from Lake Washington was nothing compared to the sigh of relief USC quarterback Matt Leinart exhaled Saturday afternoon. No, the No. 1-ranked Trojans didn’t dodge an upset or win in anywhere near as compelling a fashion as last week’s classic against Notre Dame. But they rediscovered former offensive coordinator Norm Chow’s system, which brought equal satisfaction. center_img These remarks answered the season-long question of whether the Trojans’ offense changed under new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian. But before jumping to that conclusion, USC coach Pete Carroll weighed in, and naturally differed slightly, even though he changed the offense. Carroll said he wanted to get back to a shorter-pass offense earlier but penalties prevented the Trojans from running it. “To get into that rhythm, you can’t play with a bunch of mistakes,” he said. Penalties weren’t a problem Saturday, so it looked like 2004 or 2003 again when USC had the ball. The fullbacks and tight ends caught six passes and White even caught two passes. “We needed to make some changes and be back in the rhythm we know so well,” Carroll said. “We went overboard (against Washington) to make a rhythm be fast just to get everyone involved and feel that style. That doesn’t mean that we stop throwing the ball downfield, we just didn’t. We be believe so much in what we are doing, we just went back to the principles.” As an example of that quick-paced attack, USC scored 37 points in the first half on just 25 plays, including a Heisman-worthy 84-yard punt return from tailback Reggie Bush that saw him emerge from a group of Washington players, elude several tacklers and race untouched down the sideline. “I’ve been waiting to break one since the beginning of the year,” Bush said. “All I had to do is make a couple people miss.” In the span of seven minutes, USC went from trailing 10-7 to leading 34-10. Leinart threw three touchdown passes and Bush scored the other two. “One of our goals this week was for (Leinart) to relax and not worry about a lot of things. He wasn’t having fun,” Sarkisian said. “He wanted to have fun. We tried to keep it simple and go back to what works.” Jarrett caught three touchdown passes, including a one-handed stab in the third quarter that will compare to those made by Mike Williams and Dominique Byrd the past two seasons. Bush said USC (7-0, 4-0) wanted to send a message against the Huskies after nail-biters with Arizona State and Notre Dame in the past three weeks. “We wanted to make a statement and I think we made one that we were dominant,” Bush said. Unless you watched the defense closely. USC stopped the Huskies on three-plays-and-out only two times. Although Washington isn’t fooling anyone these days, the Huskies moved the ball effectively, as quarterback Isaiah Stanback completed 14 of 18 passes for 201 yards. This being Washington, however, Stanback also threw a lateral that was recovered by USC and fumbled a handoff, which led to two Trojan touchdowns. “It was somewhat of a lucky break,” USC nose guard Sedrick Ellis said of the turnovers. There was nothing to suggest USC’s defense isn’t still vulnerable. “We take punches but we’re still standing,” Ellis said. Carroll acknowledged the defense’s shortcomings. “We’re pasting it together a little bit but that’s OK, it’s keeping us up late at night,” he said. The one positive was converted cornerback Josh Pinkard, who replaced the injured John Walker and thrived enough for Carroll to say the safety’s move to cornerback would be permanent. “We might have gotten a little better there today,” Carroll said. Scott Wolf, (818) 713-3607 scott.wolf@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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