USC vs. Arkansas State: Who Were the Studs and Duds?

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Sep 5, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive end Malik Dorton (44) tackles Arkansas Red Wolves quarterback Fredi Knighten (9) at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Who impressed and who left something to be desired in the USC vs. Arkansas State match up at the Coliseum Saturday night?

We’ve got a look at the stand outs from both sides of the coin.

Who were the studs?

Chris Hawkins: The star of the defensive effort for the Trojans, Hawkins shined in his debut at safety. First he nabbed an interception to halt Arkansas State’s progress deep into USC territory. Then he recovered a fumble to further prove that the move from cornerback to safety was a wise one.

Cody Kessler: The Trojans’ starting quarterback had a rather pedestrian season opening performance by his standards, completing 19-of-26 for 236 yards and four touchdowns without turning the ball over. That stat line will earn a stud any day of the week, though there are some areas for Kessler to work on after Week 1. He missed on a few deep balls, including would-be touchdown to Steven Mitchell late in the first quarter.

The Entire Defensive Line: Justin Wilcox’s defense proved aggressive in their first outing of the season with the platooning system taking effect without a hitch. From top dogs to third stringers, everyone played their part to contain the Arkansas State offense. Antwaun Woods disrupted several throws with pressure on the quarterback while Kenny Bigelow made his mark bursting into the backfield.

Cameron Smith: Not only was Smith the first middle linebacker to start as a true freshman at USC in 37 years, he led the Trojans in tackles, with seven. He was constantly on the ball in his debut, looking like a veteran and not a true freshman. That’s the benefit of enrolling early at USC during the spring. He nearly added an interception on top of it, while breaking up a pass in the first quarter.

Tre Madden: Playing in his first game since 2013, Madden topped the 100-yard mark for the Trojans. He had a couple of touchdowns, including a 65-yard romp in the first half and a 7-yard reception in the third quarter.

Osa Masina: The freshman linebacker had quite the debut, highlighted by a 46-yard scoop and score on a backwards pass from Arkansas State quarterback James Tabary. In the first half, Masina recorded a tackle for loss on a play in which he combined on a blitz with Porter Gustin.