“We could have played a whole lot better,” Carroll said. “We gave them a lot of freebies with the penalties. (Our punt team) is terrible. I’m embarrassed. We have to deal with it. It’s terrible.” Carroll also said he’s still wondering how 16 seconds elapsed on the second-to-last play, when Leinart fumbled, leaving USC with seven seconds for the final play. “It couldn’t have lasted more than six or seven seconds, we should have had more than twice as much time,” he said. Carroll said he went for it because the official told him the ball was spotted on the “three-inch line.” “It wasn’t quite that close,” Carroll said. “It was a one-shot deal or nothing.” After reviewing the film, Carroll said Bush didn’t push Leinart into the end zone, which is considered illegal, but rarely called. “He didn’t push him in,” Carroll said. “He did knock into him. He didn’t pile drive him into the end zone.” Another issue was Carroll’s decision to forbid instant replay in the game. “I thought a lot about it last night,” he said. “One play they would have replayed whether Matt scored or not (before he fumbled). And on Brady Quinn’s touchdown, they could have reviewed it because he got pulled back.” Asked about any lingering memories from probably the most emotional victory in his tenure, Carroll said he remembered going into the kickoff team huddle with three seconds left. “I’m looking at a bunch of young guys and they wanted to end the game in the worst way,” Carroll said. “I’m trying to explain to Troy Van Blarcom how I want him to kick it and (linebacker) Rey Maualuga says, ‘Coach, can I ask a question?’ “And I’m like, ‘No, no, shut up.’ And he says, ‘Can I ask? Does the clock start when we kick it or touch someone?’ I thought it was funny.” Notes: Carroll said tailback Desmond Reed will miss the rest of the season with torn knee ligaments after getting his knee stuck in the turf on a kickoff. He refused to blame the high grass at Notre Dame Stadium. “I don’t think so. His stride was so out of whack,” Carroll said. “The turf felt really good to run on but it gave way everywhere and there were divots everywhere.” Carroll said Justin Wyatt would not replace Reed on kickoffs, even though he did Saturday. … USC will be first in today’s initial Bowl Championship Series rankings. The Trojans should control their own destiny, remaining first as long as they win their remaining games. Scott Wolf, (818) 713-3607, [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! For every reference to USC owning the greatest offense in college football history, another equally compelling comment could be made about the No. 1-ranked Trojans at the halfway mark of the season. Without tailback Reggie Bush, USC often looks like a pretty average team. The Trojans basked in the afterglow Sunday of their 34-31 victory over Notre Dame, which goes down as one of the most memorable of the series and probably the most memorable college football game this year. “I have never been in a game like this,” defensive end Lawrence Jackson said. “I will remember it for the rest of my life.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Jackson and his teammates can thank Bush, who bailed out the Trojans repeatedly in South Bend, Ind., especially with quarterback Matt Leinart in a funk and tailback LenDale White in another one of those reduced roles. “I wouldn’t say he bails us out, but he turns a lot of 6-yard plays into big plays,” offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin said. Bush scored touchdowns on runs of 36, 45 and 9 yards against Notre Dame and without him, there wasn’t much difference between the Trojans and Irish. In fact, Notre Dame was actually superior at quarterback, no matter who won the Heisman Trophy. USC has scored 24 touchdowns this season and Bush has nearly 50 percent (11). But even with Bush, USC coach Pete Carroll found plenty to complain about even after a thrilling victory.