Saturday night wasn’t a banner night for USC football, as the 16th ranked Trojans lost to Arizona State at the Coliseum for the first time since 1999, via the dreaded Hail Mary.
Overall, the Trojans ran 95 plays but struggled to find the production to show for that many, averaging just 5.1 yards per play.
ASU had much more success on a per play basis, as you would for expect for a team that scored three touchdowns of at least 46 yards. Their 7.9 yards per play average was the most USC has allowed since the 8.7 yard clip the Sun Devils posted in last year’s 62-41 debacle in Tempe.
Buck tops the Pac
Follwing the eighth 100-yard performance of his career, Buck Allen is now tops in the Pac-12 in rushing with 576 yards through five games. Nationally, he’s 20th, and ironically sits three yards behind Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy.
But it’s not all about rushing for Allen. The junior had four receptions for 86 yards on Saturday night, putting him second on the team in both categories this season, behind Nelson Agholor.
Furthermore, Allen is averaging 165.2 all-purpose yards per game. That’s good for seventh in the country and is just behind Arizona State’s D.J. Foster, who had a season low 86 all-purpose yards vs. USC.
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Pass defense finally blown up
USC’s secondary held Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion to the worst game of his record-breaking career last week. On Saturday against ASU, there was a much different story being told.
Mike Bercovici had the best statistical game of his very brief career, thus far. How good? His 510 yards were the second most that the Trojans have ever given up.
USC entered the game giving up 622 yards and zero passing touchdowns through four games. Bercovici threw for five touchdowns and those aforementioned 510 yards.
As for defensive passer rating, the Trojans’ opponents had a 85.44 rating coming into Saturday. Bercovici’s 187.7 rating this weekend was the highest by a USC opponent since Marcus Mariota had a 255.4 passer rating in 2012.
USC’s cumlative defensive rating now stands at 114.7.
Kessler is still pickless
Despite his poorest outing of the season that saw him register a 113.2 passer rating, quarterback Cody Kessler has still yet to throw an interception this season.
No one in the country has thrown more passes without a single pick this year, and Kessler’s streak now runs 182 consecutive completions without an interception dating back to the Las Vegas Bowl.
Rush defense is back
After getting blown to shreds at Boston College to the tune of 452 rushing yards, the Trojans have bounced back pretty well against the run.
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They’ve given up a total of just 89 yards in the last two weeks combined. Arizona State, who entered Saturday’s game as the top rushing team in the Pac-12 with a 262 yards per game average, was held to just 31 yards.
Even though the Sun Devils abandoned the run in the fourth quarter because they needed to score without burning up much of the clock, they never had success at any point before that.
D.J. Foster averaged 1.3 yards per carry, and if you eliminate his longest run of 10 yards, he had just four yards on his other nine carries.
Had Taylor Kelly been healthy, ASU might have presented the Trojans with more looks to account for, which may have changed things. Arizona’s Anu Solomon is quite mobile and will be another huge test for USC’s front seven next week.
Run game struggling in the first half
In a strange tale of two halves, USC’s running game totals have drastically different.
Through five games, the Trojans are averaging a dismal 2.88 yards per carry in the first half, good for 115th in the country. Just 23 percent of those carries have resulted in first downs, and only 12 percent have been gains of 10 yards or more.
It’s a completely different story in the second half, where they rank 58th with a 4.57 yards per carry average. Forty-one percent of said runs have resulted in a first down.
That’s likely a result of wearing teams down, which has been especially apparently the last two weeks. But even with defensive fatigued accounted for, a 1.7 yard per carry variance between halves is massive.