USC vs. Idaho Report Card: Grading the Trojan Defense


USC vs. Idaho was not the rousing success on defense that the season opener turned out to be, but the Trojan defense remained solid at the Coliseum.

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

Standout. Delvon Simmons. DEFENSIVE LINE. B. After an outstanding season opener, the defensive line dropped off a bit in Week 2. Despite playing a less-mobile pair of quarterbacks, the line was unable to sustain real pressure. On the plus side, the Vandals rushing game was largely shut down, limited to just 2.2 yards per carry and 71 yards gained. Delvon Simmons led the unit with five tackles

B. The Trojan linebackers had a solid outing with Cameron Smith once again topping the list in terms of tackles and Su’a Cravens logging a sack. However, there were one too many tackles missed to earn a stronger grade.
Porter Gustin had a pair of nice plays bursting into the backfield off the edge, one which resulted in a tackle for loss and the other which forced an errant throw. He continues to make the case for a place higher on the depth chart.
. Standout. Porter Gustin. LINEBACKER

Adoree' Jackson. CORNERBACK. B. Idaho did not really test the USC cornerbacks, who were not beaten over the top at any point during the game. Still, the Vandals did find reasonable success in the passing game at points, particularly on screens in the third quarter, which reflects poorly on the corners. That Idaho was able to move the chains 12 times through the air is a slight concern. At the same time, Matt Linehan was limited to under 200 passing yards on 32 attempts. All in all, it was not an outstanding performance, nor was it one fraught with negatives.
. Standout

Standout. Chris Hawkins. SAFETIES. A. Continuing on from their performance in the opener, the Trojan safeties have been a surprise bright spot for the defense. Chris Hawkins landed a few hard hits as he patrolled the secondary while John Plattenburg again proved capable of blowing up plays behind the line of scrimmage. Leon McQuay III forced a fumble while Matt Lopes logged four tackles.
Marvell Tell’s pass interference penalty was a negative however, slight.

Justin Wilcox. COACHING. B. There will be valid questions about why the second straight opponent was able to come out of halftime and launch a scoring drive after being shut out in the first half. On the one hand, the Trojans held a hefty lead. On the other hand, USC’s inability to adjust after the break has been a concern going back to last season. Wilcox will get a pass in such a sizable victory, but this one could be logged away as a warning sign if issues remain against more formidable opponents.
For now, Wilcox’s defense limited an opponent to under ten points, which is a plus regardless of the level of opposition.
. Standout

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