USC struggled to establish the passing game in Saturday’s 13-10 victory over the Stanford Cardinal, but Nelson Agholor rose to the occasion and carried the receiving corps until the end.
Agholor was the unquestioned number one choice for Cody Kessler against the Cardinal. His nine catches for a game-high 91 yards attests to that.
Most importantly, 29 of those yards came on a catch-and-run during USC’s final drive, which set up Andre Heidari‘s game-winning kick.
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Unfortunately for the Trojans, Agholor was the only stand out in the passing game on the day.
Credit should be given to George Farmer who grabbed four catches for 36 yards. On two of those receptions, Farmer was given the ball on isolated bubble screens and beat the defender to secure two key first downs on USC’s game-tying field goal drive in the third quarter.
Still, the only other USC receiver to catch a ball on the day was JuJu Smith and he failed to gain positive yardage on that play.
Whether Kessler needs to do a better job finding his play-makers or Sarkisian needs to put more emphasis on calling up plays designed to spread the wealth, the Trojan receiving corps as a whole was disappointing against the Cardinal.
The absence of Smith and fellow freshmen Adoree’ Jackson, Bryce Dixon and Ajene Harris isn’t terribly surprising. Facing a tough test in their second collegiate game, it is understanding that such young players struggled to make an impact.
It was, however, concerning that more-veteran players like Darreus Rogers and tight end Randal Telfer weren’t able to contribute to the offensive effort in terms of pass catching.
If the grade was for Agholor alone, the rating for the receivers would be higher this week, but USC has too much talent at wide out and tight end to excuse them as a one-man unit.
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