The Trojans improved their record to 3-1 on Saturday, defeating the Cal Bears 27-9 as they gave pollsters a reason to rank them higher than 13th. Who were the big men on campus this week? Let’s give some helmet stickers and find out.
Silas Redd: Redd had his best game as a Trojan and was just six yards shy of setting a new career high, as the junior ran for 158 yards on 21 carries. From early on in the first quarter, you could tell that the Trojans were going to be successful on the ground, and Redd’s 33-yard touchdown run midway through the opening frame was evidence of that. Redd slashed, sought out and fought for more yards with each carry, running with purpose and possibly cementing himself as Lane Kiffin’s No. 1 tailback.
Khaled Holmes: Playing on an injured ankle is gutsy. Playing on an injured ankle and dominating the line of scrimmage is unheard of. That’s what Holmes did on Saturday, despite playing in a ton of pain as seen throughout the game. His return to the offensive line forced a big uptick in performance for the unit, and helped established the running game that the Trojans had yet to see in the first three games. Holmes did end up reaggrevating his sprained ankle however, a sign that maybe he just wasn’t ready to play yet, although that makes his performance that much more admiring, even if it could be considered reckless.
Abe Markowitz: In a surprising move, when the Trojans started the game, it was Markowitz taking snaps at left guard, not Marcus Martin. The senior made his first ever start for the Men of Troy, and saw his first action since getting late game reps against San Jose State as a redshirt freshman in 2009. But despite the rust, despite the slew of injuries he’s battled throughout his stint at USC, and despite the adversity facing him given the offensive line’s struggles against Stanford, Markowitz was more than solid against Cal. The Trojans had plenty of success running the ball to the left side, where he and Aundrey Walker excelled. Martin really struggled last week, so while his benching wasn’t about to be elaborated on by Lane Kiffin, Markowitz made it clear that he flat out bested Martin through his performance.
Morgan Breslin: The entire defensive line deserve helmet stickers, as they combined for 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks. But because that’s not interesting, it only makes sense to give Breslin the nod, as he looked like Jared Allen out there. The junior college transfer had three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. That’s helmet sticker material, without a doubt.
Andre Heidari: The Trojans desperately missed Heidari against Stanford, considering his absence forced Lane Kiffin to roll the dice on fourth down in the redzone as opposed to kicking a field goal to make it a two-score game in the third quarter. On Saturday, Heidari was 2 of 2 and perfect as always on PATs. He didn’t kick a game winner or hit a 50-yarder, but his presence back in the lineup and his ability to still get on the board is a massive boost of morale for the Trojans.