USC vs. Cal Report Card: Grading the Trojan Offense


The Trojan offense had its ups and downs as USC vs. Cal ended in a 27-21 victory for the road team on Halloween.

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

Standout. Cody Kessler. QUARTERBACK. B+. Cody Kessler had a muted outing, but did not make any glaring mistakes to cost his team the game like his counterpart on the other sideline. Without throwing a touchdown, he also protected the ball by avoiding interceptions and completed a respectable 18-of-22 attempts. Very little was attempted, but that meant very little was risked.

RUNNING BACK. A. The Trojan running backs only averaged 3.7 yards per carry, but Ronald Jones II alone held an average of 7.3. He scored the opening touchdown for USC and was a threat throughout despite being limited with a sore knee late. Tre Madden returned to action with a solid performance of 62 yards on 14 carries to go along with a touchdown. He also made perhaps the play of the game when he turned a broken play into a key third down conversion to ice the game.. Standout. Ronald Jones II

A. JuJu Smith-Schuster made some key grabs before exiting the game with a fractured hand. Deontay Burnett stepped up early to gain 82 yards on three catches while Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell had three and two catches each in their return. All in all it was a quiet but mistake-free outing for the receivers.. Standout. JuJu Smith-Schuster. RECEIVER

B. Khaliel Rodgers was solid in his first full game as the starting center, helping to open up big holes for the Trojan running backs including a great block to open up space for Jones to walk into the endzone early on. However, Zach Banner was hit with a couple harmful penalties and the pass protection left something to be desired, as did the performance of the line on a couple key short yardage situations. Still, the strength of the ground game put their play in the positive for the day.. Standout. Khaliel Rodgers. OFFENSIVE LINE

C. Helton’s decision to limit Jones’ touches late in the game may have been related to the running back’s sore knee, but there are still legitimate questions about the usage of the freshman. Those questions also extend to the timing of bubble screens, which were largely negated by their obviousness to the defense. That the Trojans sustained the rushing attack and limited the passing game is a plus for the head coach and offensive coordinator, but all in all there is a feeling that decision making was a major part of USC’s offense being limited to 20 total points.. Standout. Clay Helton. COACHING

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

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