HONOLULU - SEPTEMBER 2: Kristofer O'Dowd #61 Butch Lewis #68 and Ronald Johnson #83 of the University of Southern California Trojans celebrate in the end zone after Johnson scored a touchdown during first half action against the University of Hawaii Warriors at Aloha Stadium September 2 2010 in Honolulu Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Reviewing the on-field hits and misses for L.A. teams after 2010's opening weekend of college football action.
1. Ronald Johnson, USC. When is seven catches for 59 yards noteworthy? When three of those catches go for touchdowns. And just to make things interesting, Johnson added an 89-yard punt return for a score.
2. Matt Barkley, USC. With the saturation levels of USC football in sports media, Barkley may seem ubiquitous already, and stat lines like last Thursday's (18/23, 5 TD passes, 257 yards, no picks) make it even harder to remember he's just a sophomore.
3. Kai Forbath, UCLA. Last year's consensus All-American kicker accounted for ten of the Bruins' 22 points on Saturday, and made three mid-to-long range field goals to keep the Bruins close on KState's heels.
4. The rest of USC's offense, just in general, looked sound and cohesive in one of college football's lengthier road trips, and should cushion some of the growing pains the Trojan defense will experience this season.
5. Kevin Prince, UCLA. This may seem an odd choice. Prince had a baaaad day in Manhattan. 9/26, 120 yards, one score and two picks. He also scored a rushing touchdown, however, and he's coming back from an injury in a road game halfway across the country. Most endearingly, he really seems to have his head together. And most crucially for his team, the revolver offense seems to be gelling viably for this 2010 Bruins squad in his hands.
6. Mitch Mustain, USC, whose first 2010 outing was highlighted by a failed 2-point conversion attempt late in the third quarter. Adios, fake quarterback controversy.
7. Morrell Presley, UCLA, who killed game-opening momentum with two drops on the Bruins' opening three-and-out.
8. UCLA's tackling game. Bruins Nation expounds:
This one is rather simple. The tackling was very, very bad. Guys not breaking down, reaching, not wrapping up. We saw it all on Saturday and the Bruins paid for it to the tune of 313 rushing yards. The reason I don't dump this down in the ugly section is that I wonder how much of it had to do with CRN eliminating full contact and tackling from practice after the fall game when Maiava went down because, in his opinion, the team couldn't afford to risk more injuries. While the decision makes sense in theory, the Bruins paid for it. Because the team hadn't tackled live in a while, their poor tackling isn't completely their fault. They most definitely need to be better, but 100% of the blame can't fall on their shoulders.
9. UCLA's wide receivers. Kevin Prince's miserable stat line had help. Dropped passes were the name of the game for what was supposed to be a justifiably ballyhooed, experienced Bruins unit on Saturday. And they don't have a lot of time to get it right: After all-round ominous opponent Stanford, the Bruins will face two offensive fireworks shows in Houston and Texas. Fast points will be crucial.
[The] defense sucked Thursday night. It gave up nearly 600 yards of total offense to a middle of the road WAC team. It couldn't tackle. It's couldn't cover the opposing receivers. Even more irritating was the fact that some dude by the name of Bryan Moniz passed for over 250 yards. None of the events that transpired were particularly comforting. In fact, ESPNLA even graded the defensive performance with an F, and it's tough to feel a whole lot differently.
The good news: The Trojans have a ridiculously favorable warmup schedule to get things rolling in the correct direction. Virginia at home, a trip to Minnesota, and another trip to Washington State round out September before Washington comes to town Oct. 2.