USC vs. Arkansas State Report Card: Grading the Trojan Defense


The Trojan defense was the star of the USC vs. Arkansas State match up as newcomers made their mark in the season opener.

RELATED: 10 Best Season Opening Wins in USC Football History

Here’s how each defensive unit graded out against the Red Wolves.

DEFENSIVE LINE. A. Though the Trojans generated just one sack, it was a strong performance from the defensive line in their first outing without Leonard Williams.
Kenny Bigelow was impressive on his debut after sitting out two years, first as a redshirt, then with a season ending injury. The highly-touted recruit looked every bit the player USC believed he could be when he was signed with a sack and a pass break up to go along with three tackles.
On the veteran side of things, Antwaun Woods provided pressure up the middle as the entire line harried Fredi Knighten in the passing game.
. Standout. Kenny Bigelow

A. Knighten had most of his success on the ground, but even that was muted, thanks in part to top-notch showings from the linebackers across the board.
In the first start of his career, Cameron Smith looked a veteran in the middle line backer spot. With natural instincts like he displayed, it is no surprise that he lead the team in tackles on the night.
Su’a Cravens added an interception to set up a score while Osa Masina’s awareness gave him the opportunity to return a fumble for a touchdown.
To a man, the linebackers where effective as limiting Knighten’s scrambling and did not get tripped up by the Red Wolves’ attempts at trick plays.
. Standout. Cameron Smith. LINEBACKER

Adoree’ Jackson was held out as a precaution after tweaking something on a punt return, but it made no difference to the Trojan cornerbacks who had no trouble keeping the Arkansas State passing attack in check.
Iman Marshall saw more time because of Jackson’s absence and he grab his opportunities without hesitation. With six tackles and two pass break up, it was a solid evening for the Trojan No. 8.
Kevon Seymour and Jonathan Lockett had quiet evenings, which is usually positive for cornerbacks.
. Standout. Iman Marshall. CORNERBACK. A

Chris Hawkins. SAFETIES. A. This time last year, Chris Hawkins was a starting cornerback, but by the end of the season it would have been tough to predict him putting in the MVP performance for the 2015 opener.
That’s exactly what he did in his first start at safety with an interception and a fumble recovery in a position he has taken too like a fish in water.
Hawkins was not the only stand out at safety either. John Plattenburg was near perfect in his reading of the game, while Marvell Tell and Leon McQuay II did not put a foot wrong.
. Standout

A. After a tumultuous 2014 season, Justin Wilcox defense had the look of a unit truly comfortable in their system.
The platooning system went off without as hitch as the Trojans made line changes from start to finish without missing a beat.
Penalties were limited as well, with just one — a personal foul on Antwaun Woods — called on the defense.
. Standout. Justin Wilcox. COACHING

What say you Trojan fans? Vote in the poll and let us know how you feel about the defensive performance during USC vs. Arkansas State in the comments below.

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