Stud: WR duo
Nelson Agholor was a game time decision with sore ribs and Darreus Rogers has been fighting an ankle injury, yet the two Trojan receivers showed up when USC needed them most. Agholor led all receivers with nine catches for 97 yards and his tight-roping flip into the endzone for a touchdown was the highlight of the day. It wasn’t just the numbers though. The sophomore wide out made Cody Kessler’s life that much easier by finding open spaces on the field to exploit.
Rogers five receptions for 62 yards and quickly became a favorite target for Kessler. Since Marqise Lee went down with injury, the true freshman has slowly but surely grown into his role in the USC passing game. This was his best outing to date.
An honorable mention goes to veteran, but oft-injured receiver De’Von Flournoy, whose 31 yard reception for a much needed first down encapsulated the heart shown by all the Trojan wide outs.
The Trojans had by far their worst day rushing today with a puny 30 yards on the ground. It was the first time they’ve been held to under 100 yards this season. A huge contributor to that was the offensive line, which seemed to get worse and worse as the game went on. Trojan running backs were met in the backfield with regularity and when they did make it to the line of scrimmage they had to slip through the tiniest of holes. Silas Redd, who had 117 yards last week, laid a goose egg on 10 carries. To be fair, Tre Madden got into the game late and finished with 60 yards and Kessler sacks knocked 30 yards off of the final total. But that was part of the problem.
Kessler was overrun in the pocket throughout the game and the five sacks he endured were more often a matter of poor blocking than him holding the ball too long, as he is guilty of on occasion. The injury to Kevin Graf which required a complete shuffling of the already struggling offensive line did not help matters.
Stud: Andre Heidari
A week removed from missing two key field goals against the Irish and having his job safety called into question, Andre Heidari stepped up and proved why he deserves his place. He accounted for the Trojans final 13 points — four field goals and a PAT. With successful kicks from 35, 38, 28, and 40 yards, he’s easily forgiven for missing the final kick from 38-yards out just wide to the right.
USC now just needs to hope that this performance has pushed Heidari out of his so-called “funk.”
Dud: Ute QBs
The Travis Wilson entered the game with question marks surrounding his banged up hand, but suited up and started anyways. Whether or not his jammed finger accounts for the entirety of his performance, it’s clear that giving it a go might not have been the best idea. Wilson went 5-14 for 51 yards and two interceptions before being taken out of the game in favor of back up Adam Shulz.
Of course, Shulz didn’t turn out to be that much better. Finishing 7-17 for 79 yards and an interception of his own, Shulz couldn’t produce any more points than Wilson did. In fact, Wilson’s legs were the most effective weapon for Utah all day — he finished with 42 yards on the ground. As his replacement Shulz was unable to contend with the furious Trojan pass rush as effectively.
Stud: 5-star Freshman Safeties
Su’a Cravens and Leon McQuay III were two of the talismans of USC’s 2013 recruiting class and they proved it with an interception apiece in the second quarter. McQuay got into the game because of the injury that kept Dion Bailey from suiting up (initially) and he made the most of that opportunity. Reading the play perfectly, he leaped in front of a Wilson pass to the sideline and set up the second Trojan field goal to lead 13-3. On the very next defensive snap, Cravens got in on the action by snatching Schulz’s overthrown long ball and running it back to the 54 yards to the Utah nine yard line with just enough time left to kick another field goal to go up 16-3.
Dud: More Injuries
It wasn’t enough to get a win on the scoreboard. For the Trojans to come out of this game truly happy, they needed to also come away with as few men down as possible. Unfortunately, the injury bug has latched on and it shows no sign of letting go. Su’a Cravens injured his groin on his interception return and couldn’t return for the second half. Dion Bailey suited up at the half because of that injury in the secondary but his own injury problems were obvious. The Trojans also lost offensive lineman Kevin Graf and walk-on tight end Shane Sullivan.
Who were your studs and duds? Let us know in the comments below.