USC vs. ASU Report Card: Grading the Trojan Defense

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Sep 26, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Southern California Trojans cornerback Isaiah Langley celebrates following the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. The Trojans defeated the Sun Devils 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The match up between USC vs. ASU looked like a potential shoot-out early, but the Trojan defense tightened up to hold the Sun Devils to a 42-14 final.

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Here’s how each defensive unit graded out against the Sun Devils:

C+. Though they could not possibly have played worse than last week, the Trojan defensive line actually was much improved. Improved performance rushing the passer helped keep Mike Bercovici out of sorts. In fact, pressure from the defensive line helped force the bad throw which John Plattenburg intercepted. Delvon Simmons also did his part to force a turnover, causing the fumble which Chris Hawkins returned for a touchdown. Still it was not all good. The line struggled to get the necessary push to stop the run for most of the night, allowing the Sun Devils to rush for 182 yards.. Standout. Delvon Simmons. DEFENSIVE LINE

A-. Su’a Cravens put in his usual outstanding performance, forcing ASU’s first turnover, logging two tackles for loss and leading the team in tackles. Unlike last week, Cravens was not the only linebacker making big plays for the Trojans. Scott Felix missed a tackle early and got hit with an offside flag but made up for it by starting the second half with a sack. Cameron Smith also forced a sack as the Trojan linebackers as a whole were more effective blitzing against the ASU front. In fact, Quinton Powell joined Simmons in forcing the key fumble.. Standout. Su'a Cravens. LINEBACKER

The cornerbacks did not have a lot to do against ASU. Bercovici was flustered by the pass rush and missed plenty of throws as a result. Still, there was little to be concerned about. Even with Kevon Seymour still out of action, the next men up proved capable of handling responsibilities. True freshman Iman Marshall started for the second time without issue, while fellow freshman Isaiah Langley provided tight coverage on Plattenburg’s interception and was never exposed.. Standout. Isaiah Langley. CORNERBACK. B

Standout. Chris Hawkins. SAFETIES. B+. As previously mentioned, Plattenburg nabbed an interception early in the second quarter to help set up one of four Trojan touchdowns on turnovers in the first half. He was one-upped by Chris Hawkins, who scooped a fumble at the 1-yard line and returned it 99-yards for the score. If there was a back-breaker in the contest, it was surely that moment.

B. The Trojan defense still looked vulnerable, especially to the run, but USC’s coaches said they would focus on pressure and turnovers this week and they delivered on that promise. The Trojans went after the ball, forcing four turnovers in total. They also went after the quarterback with a much more extensive package of blitzes which did the job in keeping the Sun Devil offense off-balanced. Justin Wilcox is by no means out of the woods, but he did what he could to restore just a little bit of faith in his abilities.. 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. ASU in the comments below.

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