A devastating string of injuries wasn’t enough to knock the Trojans out completely this season. With the 19-3 victory over Utah, USC improved to 5-3 and kept both their bowl hopes alive and kicking. Speaking of kicking, the Trojans relied on much-maligned kicker Andre Heidari to score 13 of their 19 points by going 4-5 on field goals and hitting is only PAT. Heidari wasn’t the only surprise of the game though.
The box score held plenty of intrigue this week:
|NET YARDS RUSHING||71||30|
|Average Per Rush||1.9||1.0|
|NET YARDS PASSING||130||230|
|Average Per Completion||10.8||11.0|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||201||260|
|Total offense plays||69||62|
|Average Gain Per Play||2.9||4.2|
|Third-Down Conversions||6 of 17||3 of 15|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||2 of 4||1 of 1|
The first thing that stands out in the box score is the general lack of production from both offenses. For just the third time this season the Trojans were out rushed by their opponents, except this time, unlike the previous two occasions against Arizona State and Notre Dame, that fact wasn’t accompanied by a loss. To make matters even more interesting, the Utes out gained USC on the ground (41 yards) by more than the Sun Devils and Irish combined (19 yards). On the passing front, the Trojans were significantly more efficient, completing 65% of passes compared to Utah’s 38% on a near even number of attempts.
Other numbers to note, neither team had particular trouble with penalties and the Trojans significantly reduced their totals from last week against Notre Dame when they accrued 11. They did not, however, improve their consistently terrible third down conversion percentage. The most telling numbers as to the outcome of the game fell under redzone scoring, where USC came away with points three out of four tries while Utah scored just once in three chances.
Oh, Rushers Where Art Thou?
A week removed from his stellar performance against Notre Dame, Silas Redd couldn’t get anything going against the stout Ute defensive front. This was his second single-digit rushing game of his Trojan career, though the first one came on just three carries against UCLA.
Tre Madden returned to action and showed his value instantly to salvage the Trojan ground game numbers by pounding out 60 yards on 12 carries.
Kessler’s Going Steady
Cody Kessler has steadily found his groove as the season has worn on and while this won’t be remembered as his best performance, it certainly showed that he has become more comfortable in his role as a game manager. With his fourth straight 200-yard game, the redshirt sophomore avoided any key mistakes and without a strong running game to lean on he was just efficient enough to keep the Trojans out of trouble.
Nelson Agholor stole the show with his highlight reel-worthy touchdown grab and led all receivers in catches and yards. Darreus Rogers had his second straight 60-yard receiving game after catching just one pass for seven yards in the early goings this season. Silas Redd found the positive yardage through the air that he lacked on the ground, though he didn’t have much impact to speak of there either. De’Von Flournoy had a highlight of his own. Chris Willson, a walk on, also got in on the action.
|22||McQuay III, Leon||1||2||3||.||.||.||1-2||1||.||.||.|
J.R. Tavai continued to greatly negate the absence of Morgan Breslin with another strong performance filling in for the injured pass rusher. However, his team-best 11 tackles and two sacks wasn’t the biggest performance on the day. Turnovers created by Josh Shaw, Jabari Ruffin, Leon McQuay III, and Su’a Cravens ultimately made the difference. Those four take-aways double the total the Trojans have forced in the previous five games combined.