With the Trojans not tackling in today’s spring game, the gameplay reverted itself to something reminiscent of 7-on-7 drills. Per Rich Hammond of the OC Register, USC had 467 passing yards to a dismal negative-13 yards on the ground. With that said, it makes sense that the three stars of the game all found their success as part of the Trojans’ aerial attack.
Third Star: WR Nelson Agholor
The soon-to-be sophomore had seven catches for 116 yards and two scores during the spring game, but it was how he got those yards that made him effective. Agholor scored the first touchdown on a deep ball from Max Browne in the second quarter, as he beat his defender deep, while changing direction mid-route to stay in line for Browne and elude multiple defenders. Later in the quarter, Agholor caught a fade route from Cody Kessler and used to a Madden-esque juke move to his right to waltz into the endzone, though he was ruled down by contact when Hayes Pullard put a finger on him inside the 10-yard line as he spun.
Second Star: WR Marqise Lee
Lee grabs the second star because, well, he was the best player on the field. The Heisman candidate had eight catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns, with both scores worthy of highlight reel time. In his first pass from Kessler, Lee burned the Trojans’ secondary for a 15-yard cushion around him for Kessler to throw into. Then, in the third quarter, Lee climbed the ladder in the endzone despite being held by Anthony Brown to haul in a tremendous pass from Max Wittek. All day long, when Lee wanted to make a play he did, and it’s all worth noting that this comes with Lee still not entirely 100 percent after suffering a leg injury earlier in the spring.
First Star: QB Cody Kessler
Give Kessler the top star and MVP due to his ability to play mistake-free football and put up solid numbers despite the Trojans giving up a total of 12 sacks on the day. Kessler was 15 of 22 for 242 yards and three touchdowns, and put his passes on the money nearly every time. Unlike Wittek, Kessler’s passes were never in jeopardy of being intercepted and his comfort in the pocket seems to only improve as time progresses. He might have the best touch on the ball since Matt Leinart, as he’s able to feather the ball into the right spot both safely and routinely. Despite lacking the total arm strength of Wittek, his 70-yard touchdown pass to Lee in the first quarter showed that he can make the throws necessary to be the Trojans’ starting quarterback.