USC vs. Utah: Trojans’ Report Card

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Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback: A

With limited receiving options available, Cody Kessler still managed to connect on 21 of his 32 pass attempts for 230 yards.  Kessler only threw for one touchdown, but he routinely found the open man.

If there was a negative to Kessler’s day, he hasn’t completely rid himself of the tendency to hold onto the ball for too long.

Kessler’s stats weren’t overwhelming, but considering the circumstances he was playing under, he certainly earned himself an A.

Running backs: C

Playing without Justin Davis, Tre Madden and Silas Redd failed to provide the one-two punch the Trojans needed.  Some of that can be attributed to the porous play from the offensive line.

USC netted 30 rushing yards thanks in part to Kessler’s sacks.  Without counting the sacks taken, USC only managed to run for 74 yards.  Madden was the only player in double digits with 63 yards.

Receivers: A

With Marqise Lee, Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer, and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick all out because of injury, Nelson Agholor and Darreus Rogers stepped up to fill the void.

Agholor and Rogers combined for 159 receiving yards, and Agholor had the Trojans lone touchdown.

Like the running backs, the receivers didn’t put up flashy stats, but they were effective.

Offensive line: D

The offensive line surrendered five sacks, and Kessler was under duress for much of the game.  They failed to supply much push up front and open rushing lanes were few and far between.

Some of the struggles can be attributed to another starter exiting the game because of an injury.  This time, Kevin Graf was the next Trojan to go down.

On a positive note, the holding penalties subsided.  For one game, at least.

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Topics: Football, USC Trojans

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  • Ben Factor

    It makes no sense to grade the running backs with that comment when the OL performed badly, and the defense committed an extra player to the run. As goes the OL and defensive strategy, so goes the running game.

    I’m surprised that you graded Kessler “A” and the RBs “C”. Do you really think that Madden and Redd have lost skills to that extent, albeit hurt? Utah chose to contain the run game, and Kessler had some opportunities. Helton called some effective crossing routes and slants. Kessler took some hits, and kept playing. But he was throwing to Agholor and Rogers, not walk-ons.

    There is a fallacy to grading units separately, and to not skewing the grades to how the defense chose to play against USC.

    • Matthew Moreno

      I understand Kessler was completing passes to Agholor and Rogers, but considering that them, along with De’Von Flournoy were really the only experienced guys out there, I thought Kessler did well. Like you said, he got hit and kept playing.

      Maybe the grade is slightly inflated to adjust for the injuries to the tight ends and Marqise Lee being out. I wouldn’t argue too vehemently with anyone who thought his performance was closer to a B.

      Yes, the offensive line struggled, but Madden and Co. have shown the ability to run the ball well against stacked defensive fronts.

      • Ben Factor

        USC couldn’t run against ND after the first drive, it couldn’t run against Utah, and its 200 yards against WSU were 100 fewer than Auburn achieved.

        A strong line will be able to facilitate success with the pass if the defense overloads against the run, and vice versa.

        While USC’s line has not enabled great success in adapting to the defense, it has facilitated better play by the passing group when the defense committed against the run, and vice versa. Why should this result in exaggerated upgrades and downgrades of skill players? It’s really not their fault. Give Kessler enough time, and he will find the open man. Give Redd and Madden enough of a crease, and they will make some yards. USC’s OL is not quite adept enough to get it done. So Kessler gets hurried and sacked too much, and Madden and Redd get stuffed too much.

        IMHO, Helton has not been great at trying a wider range of adjustments to work around the OL shortcomings. He’s been more adaptive than Kiffin, and I’m not saying he would necessarily succeed with more and different adjustments. Just that he should try it. A porous and not-well-coordinated OL is a BIG problem for any team.

        • Matthew Moreno

          Good points. How would you have graded the offensive units?

  • Victory4Troy

    Not going to lie, I am worried about the ‘holing’ penalties!

    • Matthew Moreno

      As am I. Hopefully Saturday was the start of them fixing the problem.

      • Victory4Troy

        Saturday made great progress on the holding penalties. Don’t even know how to go about getting this ‘holing’ thing fixed? :)

        • Matthew Moreno

          I think that problem has also been solved.

          • Victory4Troy

            Perfect. Hopefully it’s that easy to fix everything from here on out!