I see a lot of positives in this game and overall feel more optimistic about the rest of the season. Most importantly our offense finally showed that it can really move the ball and score some touchdowns. Of course this didn't happen until the fourth quarter, but in that quarter our offense actually showed some explosiveness and the ability to really move the ball through the air. It also showed the ability to use the deep ball successfully something that was lacking up to now.
I think this was a breakout game for Kevin Prince, and it really looks like we have a quarterback now. Also our receivers made some really nice catches and overall played well for the game. Also for an offense that's been stalling inside the 5 yard line those two 2 points conversions look really good.
The one glaring weakness on offense was the lack of a consistent running game. The offensive line did a pretty good job on pass protection but were not as effective in the running game particularly on runs up the middle. But maybe it's time now to go much more with the passing game which is what happened in the fourth quarter. This team showed it can really move the ball through the air and hopefully what we saw was a glimpse of where CRN and CNC are taking the offense in the future.
Although improvements can certainly be made I'm not that concerned about the defense. We have to keep in mind that in our conference we have been playing teams with really high powered offenses. We gave up fewer points to Oregon St. than any team in the conference this year. In fact in four out of our five conference games we have given up fewer points than any of their other conference opponents. Yes we played an Oregon team without Masoli, but we only gave up 10 points to their offense. (The only exception was the Cal game). SC was supposed to have one of the best defenses in the country coming into the Oregon game, and they gave up 47 tonight and last week 36 to Oregon St. Holding teams in the 20's may not sound very good, but it's actually pretty good for our conference this year.
I also wanted to add that I thought the decision to go for the field goal on 4th and 1 was definitely the right decision. With the way our offense has been struggling running the ball there was probably about a 40% chance they wouldn't have made the first down (and even making it wouldn't guarantee a subsequent touchdown). The chances of Kai Forbath making a field goal from there were about 98%. Most importantly it could have been disastrous to go for it and not make it by demoralizing the offense and maybe the whole team playing on the road. By taking the 3 points they put something on the board and established some momentum. And there was plenty of time left in the game. Playing to win doesn't necessarily mean going for it on fourth and short. Playing to win means playing the percentages in the smartest way.
Last but not least the USC game should now be seen as being fully in play. I think we probably have a better defense than they do, and our offense is finally coming into its own. We have a real chance to win that game.