It’s been a season of Jekyll and Hyde performances for the USC Trojans offense thus far. After suffering through an over-extended quarterback battle and anemic offense as a result in the first two games, the Trojans found their groove in six quarters against Boston College and Utah State before losing it again in the second half versus the Aggies. They exploded for 41 points in the desert against Arizona State but those points came to naught as the defense was uncharacteristically battered for 62. Now at a turning point with a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator at the reins and a new lease on life, it’s time to look back on the USC offense that was in the first five games.
Marqise Lee’s 80-yard touchdown reception against Boston College was everything Trojan fans were looking for after the terrible offensive performance the week before. Kessler showed great composure to right himself after losing his footing on the drop back, found USC’s most exciting athlete in space and Lee let it rip with the help of a block from Nelson Agholor.
With apologies to Nelson Agholor, whose attempted chase down of Cougar’s DB Damante Horton was one of the top effort plays of the season, the pick six that ultimately decided the game was the lowest low of the most abysmal offensive performance this year. Kessler stared down the receiver and gifted Washington State more points than the defense allowed.
Most WTF Moment:
Arguments can be made that Kiffin had every reason to keep Lee in on punt returns as he is USC’s most explosive player and quick scoring threat. However, Lee has been battling injuries all season and had tweaked his ankle on a punt return earlier in the season. Keeping him on special teams put his season in serious danger, even though we now know the knee injury he sustained wasn’t of the season-ending variety.
Most Valuable Player: Tre Madden
The story writes itself, read-option high school quarterback comes to college as a linebacker only to make the switch to running back before blowing out his knee while making a cut in the open field. Despite all that, the QB turned LB turned RB returns from injury and thrives, rushing for more than 100 yards in each of his first three games for a total of 599 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also added 12 receptions for 135 yards and three touchdowns. It’s not just the numbers. Madden has carried the Trojan offense, single-handedly at times. His contributions have been invaluable.
Biggest Area for Improvement: Offensive Line
Aside from questionable play calling, the offensive line has been the biggest road block to success for USC so far. Poor blocking has sabotaged both the passing game and the running game. The Trojans rank 110th nationally in pass sacks allowed while Madden and Justin Davis have had ro work hard for after contact yardage. A more stable, reliable line would instantly improve the offense exponentially.
Total Offense………………..National – 87 | Conference – 12
Rushing Offense…………….National – 56 | Conference – 7
Passing Offense……………National – 98 | Conference – 11
Scoring Offense…………….National – 84 | Conference – 12
3rd Down Conversion………National – 112 | Conference – 12
Red Zone Offense………….National – 49 | Conference – 9
Turnovers……………………National – 88 | Conference – 10