Trojans hold off Minnesota's second-half surge
Opening up with Minnesota, the Trojans knew they were not going to have a cakewalk, as they entered year two under NCAA probation steming from incidents that happened before many on the current roster graduated high school.
Many who had watching the Trojans in 2010 saw the promise in Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, even as Woods was just a freshman.
And the two did not disappoint early on, hooking up on a 7-yard pass play with 5:52 remaining in the first quarter, putting the University of Southern California ahead, 6-0.
But coach Lane Kiffin’s first attempt at two points failed, leaving the Trojans lead at just 6.
Once again, this time with 9:52 remaining in the second quarter, Barkley found Woods on a 43-yard bomb, giving the Trojans a 12-point advantage. Yet again, Kiffin gambled and went for two, failing again.
Minnesota got on the Coliseum scoreboard with a 21-yard field goal with 4:07 left before halftime, but Barkley found Woods again, this time a 2-yard slant route, giving the host Trojans an 18-3 lead.
This time, with sarcastic cheers coming from the Coliseum crowd, Kiffin chose to stay cautious, kicking for the extra point instead, and his kicker, Andre Heindari, placed the ball right between the uprights, giving the Trojans a 19-3 lead with 49 seconds to go before the half.
The second half was a completely different story, as the Golder Gophers scored once in the third and another in the fourth, making it a 19-17 game and keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.
The biggest change was at quarterback for Minnesota, who went with Max Shortell, as Marquies Gray left the game with cramps. Gray gave the Golden Gophers more of an option style quarterback, as compared to Shortell, who was a more traditional style QB.
The Trojans defense, which was burned time and time again by big plays in 2010, allowed 302 yards on the day, 192 of those coming through the air, as Torin Harris provided the Trojans lone interception on the day.
If this game showed what the Trojans can do the rest of the 2011 campaign, it saw a very good connection between Barkley and Woods, as the junior quarterback completed 34 of his 45 passes for 304 yards and the three touchdowns to Woods, who caught half of Barkley’s completions for 177 yards, setting a new USC record for receptions in a game.
D.J. Morgan led the Trojan running attack, as the freshman gaing 70 yards on 18 carries.
But with former offensive coordinator Norm Chow and the Utah Utes headed into the Coliseum this Saturday in the Pac-12 South season opener, the Trojans know they cannot settle with the result they achieved against Minnesota.
Woods was named Pac-12 offensive player of the week for his performance in Saturday's contest