Aug 30, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans linebacker Anthony Sarao (56) celebrates with safety Hayes Pullard (10) after intercepting a pass in the third quarter against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Fresno State 52-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC vs. Fresno State Report Card: Grading the Linebackers

While the offense stole the spotlight in USC’s, 52-13, victory over Fresno State, the Trojan defense held the uptempo Bulldogs to their lowest scoring total since 2012 with the help of Hayes Pullard and a promising linebacking corps.

Pullard led the way for the Trojan linebackers, topping the stat charts with eight tackles in a performance Steve Sarkisian hailed.

The senior captain’s decision to return to USC for one more season was a huge boon the the Trojans in the offseason and that was on display from first defensive snap.

Beside Pullard, redshirt Anthony Sarao had a quiet game statistically, logging a single tackle. However, he added a third quarter interception to his tally, showing off soft hands to secure the tipped pass.

Scott Felix started at strongside linebacker and added three tackles to the effort, as did back up Michael Hutchings who also grabbed a late interception.

It was an odd performance for the entire defense as a whole though. The linebackers were no different in that.

Besides Pullard’s noticeable presence, it was a mostly understated outing.

Both Fresno State quarterbacks were able to take off for a couple big gains and running back Marteze Waller was allowed to get it going to start the third quarter.

In pass defense, Felix and Sarao will be expected to do more on in rushing the quarterback.

Still, there was more room to nitpick than outright criticize the unit for.

Grade: B-

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