No pot of gold for Rainbow Warriors after USC win

first_imgHONOLULU — The win will be remembered as coach Lane Kiffin’s first victory incharge of the USC football program.But the night belonged to sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley.On a steamy, muggy night in Honolulu, Barkley broke the thermometer.He was nearly flawless in USC’s (1-0) 49-36 victory over Hawai’i(0-1), picking apart the Hawaiian defense for 257 yards on 18-for-23passing and equaling a school record  of five touchdowns currentlyheld by four other players.“I did not [think this game was going to be high scoring],” Barkleysaid. “But sometimes it turns out that way. We had to respond and I’mproud of the way our guys played.” Barkley lost 10 pounds since the end of last season and it showed. Thesophomore quarterback was more mobile both in and out of the pocket,throwing four touchdowns to three different receivers before halftime.His previous career high was two touchdowns in a game.But by far, his favorite target was senior receiver Ronald Johnson.Barkley completed a one-yard touchdown pass to Johnson near the end ofthe first quarter to extend the Trojans’ lead to 14-6, and then againwith less than three minutes left in the second quarter to seeminglyput the game out of reach at 27-16. Johnson finished with sevencatches for 59 yards and tied a school record with three receivingtouchdowns.“It all took off during the summer,” Johnson said about his chemistrywith Barkley. “We all went out and catch. That connection kept growingand growing and growing and it paid off today.”Yet, Johnson’s most important score came without the assistance of Barkley.Johnson fielded a punt at USC’s own 11-yard line early in the fourthquarter, broke a few tackles and sprinted down the right sideline toput the Trojans up 34-16, which put the nail in the coffin. His89-yard return was the longest punt return since Curtis Conwayreturned a punt 96 yards in 1992, although it appeared as if Johnsonmight not return the punt at all with four unblocked Warriors waitingto hit him once he caught the ball.“For a minute I’m like, ‘Aw I think I should catch it,’ “Johnson said.“I felt the guy coming in but I just made a full-speed decision.”His decision paid off as he eluded the tacklers and found his way tothe end zone.Not to be forgotten is running back Marc Tyler. The junior got hisfirst start of his career and didn’t disappoint. He rushed for morethan 100 yards for the first time in his career and finished with 17carries for 154 yards and a touchdown. It was his last run, a 44-yardzig-zag through seemingly everyone on the Warrior defense after USCcoach Lane Kiffin pulled the second-string offense to put thefirst-string back in, that punctuated the night.“I was just thinking I know I couldn’t lose yards so I cut it back andit opened up for me,” Tyler said.But if there’s anyone who can rain on his own parade, it’s Kiffin.When asked about how he felt about his first victory, Kiffin repliedwith the enthusiasm of Eeyore.“Not very well because we didn’t do it in the style we want to — [we]want to be disciplined and tough. I thought we were tough today,thought we played physical in parts of the game but we weren’tdisciplined so that was disappointing to see,” he said. “Really hopingto pitch a shutout turnover wise but with the backups in there turnedone over so we’re disappointed in that as well.”Instead of dwelling on the offensive positives, Kiffin chose to pointout the defensive negatives. USC was actually outgained by Hawaii, 588yards to 524 yards, and the Trojans committed 11 penalties for 100yards and missed more tackles than Kiffin cared to count.“Defensively, we didn’t play well obviously.  I’m really disappointedwith everything in general: the late hit on Jurrell, the number ofoffsides on the defensive line. Part of it’s my fault on the defensiveside in the second half. I pulled guys early keeping the big picturein mind with the long season we can’t get guys injured with limitednumbers,” Kiffin said. “We ended up winning the game which is reallygood. But as you can see we got some depth concerns and issues. Weneed to develop our backup guys.”Kiffin can take solace knowing that one change he did make turned outto be positive.Before the game, Kiffin told Johnson to ditch his favorite black socksfor the white socks the rest of the team was wearing. Kiffin said itwas a 15-minute ordeal but Johnson grudgingly obeyed.“I think he’ll be wearing white socks the rest of the season,” Kiffin said.Johnson just got a new catchphrase.It’s got to be the socks. Victory · USC players celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the Trojans’ 49-36 win over Hawai’i. Two players stood out Thursday night: sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley and senior receiver Ronald Johnson, who finished the game with seven catches. – Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojanlast_img read more