USC vs Utah State: Studs and Duds

Sep 21, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans linebacker Morgan Breslin (91) against the Utah State Aggies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Utah State 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Stud: Leonard Williams

Williams led a dominant Trojan defense with eight tackles, three of which were tackles for loss. On a standout day for the entire defensive line, the sophomore stood out with his attacking mentality and helped make Chuckie Keeton look extraordinarily average.

Dud: Chuckie Keeton

Hyped as a potential Heisman dark horse, Keeton was expected to give the Trojan defense a real test. Instead it was the defense who tested Keeton. While he did complete two touchdown passes, he had by far his worst game of the season. His 53% completion rating was well below his average and his 178 yards passing were his season low. Constantly harried and regularly flustered, Keeton’s Heisman hopes likely died on the Coliseum field.

Stud: Morgan Breslin

Breslin will be the subject of Chuckie Keeton’s nightmares tonight. The defensive end accounted for three tackles for loss including two sacks of the Aggie quarterback and two more hurries beyond that. 

Dud: Cody Kessler’s Second Half

Kessler had a decent first half, showing some good pocket presence and completing some nice throws, including the 30-yard touchdown to Xavier Grimble. But in the second half Kessler was one of the big reasons USC’s offense struggled so mightly. Kessler completed just four of his 15 pass attempts in the second half. He completed just one of five attempts on third down.

Sep 21, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans safety Su

Stud: Su’a Cravens

Cravens may be a true freshman but he doesn’t play like it. The Trojan safety didn’t just lay some big hits against the Aggies, he read the game remarkably well for someone who was playing high school football this time last year. He finished the game with five tackles.

Dud: USC’s Offensive Line

Cody Kessler had a rough second half, but the offensive line did him no favors with their pass protection throughout the game. Utah State’s defense logged three sacks, one of which resulted in a fumble. In past games, the line’s run blocking made up for some of their deficiencies in pass blocking, but in the second half even the run failed them.

Topics: Leonard Williams, Morgan Breslin, Su'a Cravens, USC Trojans

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  • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

    Stud: Kris Alvarado
    Dud: Utah State Special Teams

    I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a game in which a team had a worse showing on special teams. There was a missed field goal that would have ultimately forced overtime, a shanked 12-yard punt that led to USC’s game-winning field goal, a reckless fake punt on 4th and 11 deep in Utah State territory, two dives by the punter, and in the first half, Leon McQuay twice nearly had blocked a punt. They gift wrapped USC a ton of chances, which the offense politely declined.

    As for Alvarado, he’s really becoming a master of the pooch. I know Negrete was strong in that category, but Alavarado is fantastic when it comes to pinning teams down deep. He could be SC’s best punter since Malone, and that’s weird to say/think.

    • PenguinOfTroy

      Great points, I really missed the boat leaving those two off.

  • pjwc1

    Someone explain to me how and why Lamar Dawson is wearing 55? And explain to me why Aundray Walker and Kevin Graf are playing? They suck so bad. Actually, the whole O line and FBs are horrible.

    • TrojanChuck

      There’s nothing wrong with Lamar Dawson. Should he have gotten the 55 right out of the gate two years ago? No. Was is mishandled by Monte Kiffin last year in zone coverage against the pass? Yes. Is he finally in a proper role and excelling this year? Yes.

      Dawson’s finally the player we thought he would be. Maybe not an All-American, but he’s solid enough for this team, and it’s unfortunate that the No. 55 talk clouds people’s judgement of him.

      • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

        Agree. If he was wearing No. 52, people wouldn’t complain about him. He’s not a 55-type player so far in his career, but he’s definitely way better than last year. Man, he was so out of position as that Derrick Brooks-type guy for Monte.

        • PenguinOfTroy

          This is why I don’t like offering those special numbers to incoming freshman. Would rather award it to someone who earns it. Having said that, Dawson still has time to prove himself worthy of that number.

          • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

            Agreed. Like right now, I think Hayes Pullard should be wearing that number. And interestingly enough, with offensive skill players, Kiffin has given out numbers then allowed them to chose when they earn it, as he did with Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor. I’d assume that Dawson has proven that the handout was a bad idea, unless of course…it’s a recruiting ploy like we saw with Darnell Bing wearing No. 20.

          • Matthew Moreno

            At this point, I’m 99.999999999% sure it was a recruiting ploy. It would be interesting to look back at that year’s recruiting class to see what other linebackers were available and have perhaps not recruited because they were after Dawson.

            Sort of like taking Chris Galippo and not Casey Matthews. Oops

          • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

            To be fair, Galippo was all-world coming out of high school. He was considered can’t miss. I didn’t follow Casey’s recruitment, but I’d guess that he was considered to be a guy that would have his family recruit him more than anything, given his lineage, and then PC gets Galippo, and Matthews gets attention from Bellotti and Aliotti.

          • Matthew Moreno

            I remember Galippo being the big name, but personally never fully understood it or bought in.

            Watching him at SC, I always felt he was slow and out of position more times than not.

            Maybe it was the coaching, maybe it was because of his back.

          • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

            Probably a mixture of both, considering that he didn’t get first team time under Norton. He showed promise at the beginning of 2009, but yeah, he never really hit his stride.

      • Peter Choi

        Hmmm. He’s slow. Can’t read plays. Can’t shed blocks. And he’s “solid enough for this team?” Even if he was wearing 52, I still think he’s horrible. Wearing the 55 makes it worse.

        • TrojanChuck

          He’s not horrible. Five star talent? Not anymore. Horrible? Come on. He’s not horrible. This isn’t a defense that is starting Michael Morgan or the Ting Bros. anymore.

          • Matthew Moreno

            Lay off Michael Morgan, Chuck

  • Chimi Changa

    Someone please interject with the rationale to replace Martinez with Walker. If Walker were blowing people off the line, I’d totally get why he’s a starter but I’m not seeing that, plus he seems to get flagged more than Martinez. Martinez would have been a 3-year starter alongside Graf and was on the 2011 OL which exceeded expectations at the start of the season (granted, Kalil was the LT then). He also has a low center of gravity which should help in run blocking and getting leverage on a D-lineman.
    Just read that the dang NCAA is going to reduce some of PSU’s scholie restrictions. Haden needs to be all over this RIGHT NOW, not just tweet his support of it. Regardless of who the HC is next year, he’ll appreciate a full class of 25, especially a new HC. Haden needs to not accept anything less for 2014. Hit the NCAA hard now, they’re on the ropes and completely groggy. If they only give Miami a wrist slap, that will be totally unjust. And what happened at PSU absolutely dwarfs anything at USC and we shouldn’t have comparable scholie reductions. That’s an absolute frickin’ joke. Gawd, I hate Fatboy Dee and that wench from No Dame.

    • Matthew Moreno

      You raise an excellent question. I too have wondered why John Martinez was supplanted by the often underwhelming Aundrey Walker. One guess is Walker was a big recruit, figuratively and literally, that Kiffin is looking for anywhere to put him. Not sure how much credence I would put into that, but it’s food for thought. It had been reported Martinez and Graf formed good chemistry on the right side so the change was puzzling and Walker struggling hasn’t exactly provided any answers. Reports are he entered practice this afternoon with his foot in a walking boot; maybe Martinez will get a shot to prove himself this weekend.

      I agree USC and Haden should’ve probed the NCAA aggressively in having their sanctions reduced, but that ship has long sailed. USC seems content in letting them play out as there appears to finally be some light at the end of the tunnel.

      USC was clearly made an example of (though they didn’t help their cause) and the NCAA obviously isn’t in the business of treating schools equally.