October 18, 2008

Blowout makes Carroll uncomfortable

PULLMAN, Wash.- Everything was going well. The USC offense was scoring more than Wilt Chamberlain. The Trojan defense was tougher than leather.

And Pete Carroll should've been thrilled without any strings.

But during the No. 6 Trojans' 69-0 trouncing of Washington State, Carroll said he felt a little awkward.

His team was a little too good, and Washington State was a little too overmatched.

"I was kind of indifferent. Honestly, it was a little uncomfortable to see what was going to happen," Carroll said. "I didn't know how much we were going to score or what was going to happen with the game.

"We were really able to control it. Once we got into the second quarter, you could see what was going on."

For some, it didn't even take that long.

The Trojans scored three times in the first quarter, dominating the game from the opening kickoff.

In the first 15 minutes, USC out-gained Washington State 194-14. Mark Sanchez was 8-of-10 passing with three touchdowns. C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson combined to average over 7.4 yards per carry.

Johnson stood on the sidelines as the Trojan offense took the field for the first time, and he watched his guys gash Washington State on just five plays.

"We wanted to score early," he said. "We wanted to get out and score. If we did that, I knew everything else would fall into place.

"We wanted to make sure to punch them in the mouth first - especially with a team like this because they have nothing to lose."

Unfortunately for Washington State, futility has become commonplace.

The Cougars and their offense have managed to score just 10 points in their last 42 possessions.

"(We) need to grow up," Washington State head coach Paul Wulff said. "(We) have to mature and learn how to fight a little bit more. (The team has) to learn how to compete and not have the glazed look over their eyes."

That look and the general lack of competitiveness caught Trojan right tackle Nick Howell off guard.

"It was kind of awkward," Howell said. "Sometimes when I was going to block the linebacker, I'd hit him and he'd go right down. It was like, 'Oh. Next play.'"

Still, linebacker Rey Maualuga said his team doesn't need to apologize for dismantling the Cougars.

"Any team can beat any team. Despite Washington State's record, they came out and were going to throw at us everything they had," he said. "This team, the Trojans, is something else…

"(I don't feel) guilty. That's football, and that's what football is - going out there and scoring some points while you shut down the offense. That's what we came to do."

The intention, Maualuga said, wasn't to come out and blowout Washington State by 69 points. The reality, though, was that USC did just that.

"I didn't know what to do," Carroll said. "I just wanted us to play football. I wanted to leave our guys out there to get their playtime and to get well and get right. I wanted everyone to play. All of those things happened, but I was just concerned.

"I didn't want the score to go up any higher than it had to."

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