USC vs. Boston College Report Card: Grading the Trojans’ Linebackers


USC was brought back to earth Saturday night as the Boston College Eagles defeated them 37-31, largely due to an overwhelming rushing attack which terrorized the Trojan linebackers.

There is little positive to say about a defensive performance which gave up more than 500 yards to an opponent. There is even less to positive to say when those 500 yards include 452 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns.

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Unfortunately that is what USC gave up Saturday and the linebackers take their share of the blame.

The unit was without senior captain Hayes Pullard for the first half of the game as he sat out due to a targeting ejection against Stanford. Filling in for him was sophomore Michael Hutchings who logged five tackles, but did little to stand out in such a key defensive role.

Pullard made a difference almost immediately upon returning in the second half, breaking up a pass on the sideline to end Boston College’s first drive of the second half. Unfortunately, his return did nothing more to stem the tide against the Eagle’s relentless rushing.

On the outside, Anthony Sarao and Scott Felix were powerless to prevent endless success on Boston’s outside runs. Nor were they able to contain Eagle quarterback Tyler Murphy when he scrambled for 191 yards rushing.

No linebacker was innocent of taking bad angles, especially when the Eagles ran option plays to the outside. What’s more, there were more missed tackles from the unit than any coach or viewer could find acceptable.

Perhaps it was the slick turf, which seemed to give players trouble as they attempted to make cuts in pursuit, but the linebackers were at best a non-factor in a game when they were needed most.

Grade: D

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