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USC vs Utah State: Report Card

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Sep 21, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans tailback Tre Madden (23) is pursued by Utah State Aggies defensive end Paul Piukala (48) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Utah State 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback: C+

Cody Kessler was on his way to a more generous grade. He threw some perfect passes — the 33-yarder to Marqise Lee and the 30-yard TD to Xavier Grimble were both on the money, while Lee and Randall Telfer both dropped key passes that should have been caught and would have improved Kessler’s numbers. Then the fourth quarter happened. The USC quarterback threw six passes and completed none of them, continuously opening the door for Utah State to come back and take the lead.

Running backs: B

Tre Madden ran strong through three quarters but also faded towards the end, failing to eclipse 100 yards for the first time this season. Whether it was his own legs tiring or the decision to move away from the run in favor of the pass late in the game, Madden’s impact was felt less and less as the game progressed. His 93 yards and 3.9 yards per carry were his lowest of the season. Justin Davis spelled Madden sparingly and with just 19 yards he didn’t have a standout day.

Receivers: B-

Lee and Grimble both had their highlight catches, but the aforementioned drops by Lee and Telfer were unacceptable. Agholor has quietly made his contributions but the Trojans need him to be much louder as teams focus their energies on stopping Lee. The fact that only four Trojans caught a pass and the second leading receiver was a runningback, hurts this unit’s grade.

Offensive Line: C-

In past weeks the o-line has gotten some mercy because their run blocking made up for deficiencies in pass protection. This week, the overall play of the unit was too inconsistent in both areas to warrant higher marks. As with most of the other grades for the offense, the second half performance didn’t help matters. Pass blocking was poor throughout and resulted in three Kessler sacks and a fumble. Run blocking in the second half left plenty to be desired.

To see how the defense fared, continue on to page two.

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Topics: Lane Kiffin, USC Trojans

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  • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

    We need to make “Kiffin’s Gonna Kiff” shirts.

    • Matthew Moreno

      As an astute colleague once said, bro harder, bro.

      • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

        I knew you’d love that.

    • disqus_5mzWKSTg3O

      I guess you’ve officially jumped of the Kiffin cruise ship, like many of us have. I supported Kiffin up until the wazzu game. It’s clear that he isnt cut out for HC.
      He’s been a great recruiter in the past and co-OC, so I won’t condem his future in football. His future just shouldn’t involve being a HC.

      • TrojanChuck

        Ya, he could be like a Norv Turner or Gene Chizik who should just stick to being a coordinator. Also, I don’t think he was ready to be a HC. Had he been an OC for longer, things might have been different.

      • http://fansided.com/ Michael Castillo

        Eh, I’m not off the ship. I don’t think it’s a black and white situation. There’s million things Kiffin has done wrong, another million that are fixable problems, and another million that are overblown. I don’t believe in mid-season changes in football, so might as well see how he fares as the season pans out. I’d be content with or without him at this point, as there’s going to be pros and cons to both outcomes.

      • Matthew Moreno

        I have one foot in the water; checking the temperature before I jump off the boat.

        • disqus_5mzWKSTg3O

          Ha ha.

  • disqus_5mzWKSTg3O

    The offense was played like they did the previous 3 games and most of last season: underprepared and soft.
    The only difference is that the BC defense wasn’t there this past Saturday.

    I feel like I’m hanging onto the BC game as ‘what could be’, but reality is that our offense is lousy. Running game is great at times, but still anemic when you consider the talent. Did any offensive starter not have 5+ offers out of HS?

    I don’t mean to focus on the negative, but as we start to hit the meat of the schedule, I worry the offense and it’s play caller are going to ruin the performances of one of better defenses we’ve had in several years.

    • TrojanChuck

      I think you’re right. The BC game showed what the offense can be if Kiffin calls a dynamic, unpredictable game and utilizes playaction. Against Utah State, he had block play calling. It was run for five plays, pass for three, repeat. That doesn’t fool the defense. Got to mix it up.

      • PenguinOfTroy

        Completely agree. He wasn’t able to grasp the right moment to pass and the right moment to run. Maybe things just happened to be right against BC by coincidence, but I choose to be an optimist and hope that Kiffin wasn’t just lucky then.

        • TrojanChuck

          Got to think that it wasn’t a fluke with as easy as it looked against BC. The Eagles might not be the second coming of the Steel Curtain but they aren’t totally terrible. Not good, yeah, but not bad enough to the point where an offense as bad as USC has been could easily put up 35 points while playing the same game.

  • TrojanChuck

    I don’t know that the receivers get a B. They really dropped a lot of balls. Both teams, really. Utah State couldn’t catch anything.

    • disqus_5mzWKSTg3O

      Yeah, to many dropped passes. Lee (and Kessler) would have had bigger games.
      Lee still looks like he had to catch passes from 2 QBs the last 8 months, instead of 1.

      But it’s not all on them. Was it me or did the Utah DBs have a handful of jersey on EVERY SINGLE PLAY?

      I wonder if the FJ and BJ asked themselves ‘Gee, why are the Utah DBs playing stride for stride against a future NFL WR’?
      Seeing how there were so few PI called, they probably didn’t ask themselves this question.

    • PenguinOfTroy

      Valid point. To be honest, I struggled with what to give them. It’s a tough position to grade given what others have already said — drops, PI’s/holding let go — and a C felt harsh since I don’t think the offense we’re running did them any favors.