USC vs. Utah Report Card: Grading the Trojan Offense


The USC offense took on one of the most formidable defenses in the country and finished the night with 42 points and a bigtime victory over No. 3 Utah.

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Here’s how each offensive unit graded out against the Utes:

A-. In the face of constant pressure, Cody Kessler had a classic Cody Kessler game against Utah. He was an efficient 21-of-28 for 264 yards and a touchdown. He took what the defense gave him and did not make any big mistakes to set the Trojans back. After two straight games with two interceptions each, this was the kind of game manager-type outing which played to both Kessler and USC’s strengths.. Standout. Cody Kessler. QUARTERBACK

USC’s runningbacks produced 165 yards on the ground against a Utah defense which stands among the top rushing defenses in the nation. Not only that, Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II proved capable of carrying the load for the Trojans, even with Tre Madden unavailable. For the first time this season, the running backs were relied on to carry the offense and they passed that test. Jones in particular continues to make his case to be the main man, with 81 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown.. Standout. Ronald Jones II. RUNNING BACK. A+

JuJu Smith-Schuster is racking up 100-yard outings like they’re going out of style. On a night when the Trojan receiving corps was without Steven Mitchell, Darreus Rogers and Isaac Whitney, Smith-Schuster proved more than enough firepower on his own with eight catches for 143 yards. Though USC did not do a particularly great job spreading the ball around, Smith-Schuster, Adoree’ Jackson, Jalen Greene, De’Quan Hampton and even tight end Tyler Petite all made themselves available for key grabs in key moments.. Standout. JuJu Smith-Schuster. RECEIVER. A

C. Grading on a slight curve because of injuries, the Trojan offensive line was part terrible, part impressive against Utah. Pass protection rarely passed muster as Kessler faced pressure almost instantly whenever he dropped back to pass. However, the line did clear the way for a solid night rushing, as they clearly enjoyed attacking the defense and committing to the run. Khaliel Rodgers was put in a tough spot stepping in for Toa Lobendahn, who went out injured early on, but he came in up for the challenge and helped the Trojans secure the win.. Standout. Khaliel Rodgers. OFFENSIVE LINE

A. There were still the trademark head scratchers, like throwing the ball at the goal line after Cameron Smith gave the offense life by setting up a short field with an interception. Still, Helton’s gamble to go for it on fourth down with Soma Vainuku paid off. Moreover, his version of student body right and left with both fullbacks in the game was a welcome change. Most importantly, Helton put his quarterback in positions to succeed by committing to the running game and favoring quick strike passes like bubble screens and shallow crosses. Facing a tough defense, Helton’s offensive game plan and play calling was largely impressive.. Standout. Clay Helton. COACHING

What say you Trojan fans? Let us know how you feel about the offensive performance during USC vs. Notre Dame in the comments below and vote in the poll.

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