USC vs. Fresno State Report Card: Grading the Defensive Line


The Fresno State Bulldogs came to the Coliseum Saturday with revenge on the mind, but the USC Trojans dashed those hopes with the help of solid defensive line performance headlined by All-American lineman Leonard Williams.

Williams and company menaced Fresno State quarterbacks Brian Burrell and Jordan Connette for most of the game, keeping both off balance and disrupting the flow of the Bulldog air attack. Though the Trojans logged a single sack in the game, the pressure was enough to keep either trigger man from finding a rhythm.

Leading the way, as always, was Williams who finished the evening with seven tackles, an interception and two pass break ups.

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Those latter two stats stand out among the rest as Williams helped clog up passing lanes from the line of scrimmage. One of the two break ups could have been another interception had Williams attempted a catch instead of a swat.

For his efforts, Williams has been nominated for the Pac-12 Player of the Week award.

Rush end J.R. Tavai also made his presence known with five tackles including a tackle for loss, while Antwaun Woods, Delvon Simmons and Cody Temple, who claimed the lone sack on a fourth quarter intentional grounding penalty, did their part containing the middle.

Still, the performance was not without its problems.

Fresno State running back Marteze Waller was just two yards shy of a 100-yard game and he forced home the only two Bulldog touchdowns of the outing.

Having said that, the bulk of Waller’s production came in the second half — particularly the opening drive of the third quarter which accounted for 43 of his 98 yards — well after USC had already secured a hefty lead.

Grade: B

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