USC vs. Arizona Report Card: Grading the Trojan Defense


USC vs. Arizona featured a role-reversal for the Trojan defense as the front line thrived while the secondary struggled in the 38-30 victory.

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

A. Arizona was without both starting guards on Saturday, so it might be best not to read too much into the performance of the defensive line. Still, they deserve every bit of praise for what was probably their best showing of the season. Not only did USC generate six sacks, but half of those came directly from Trojan defensive linemen. Claude Pelon made a triumphant return from injury with four tackles and a half-sack, but it was Antwaun Woods who emerged as the surprise stand out. The senior tackle had six tackles with three tackles for loss including two sacks.. Standout. Antwaun Woods. DEFENSIVE LINE

LINEBACKER. B. Like the defensive line, the Trojan linebackers enjoyed getting to the quarterback against Arizona, with Su’a Cravens, Porter Gustin and Scott Felix accounting for half of the sacks in the game. Lamar Dawson had one of his more productive showings of the season with seven tackles, including a tackle for loss and a pass break up. It was Cravens who stole the show as the stand out in the ground of course. With a team-best eight tackles and a pair of critical tackles for loss to go along with 1.5 sacks, Cravens was on top of his game.. Standout. Su'a Cravens

C. John Plattenburg’s second quarter interception was the turning point in the game, as it prevented the Wildcats from taking a 21-3 advantage and set up a long Trojan touchdown pass on the next play. Unfortunately, most of the rest of USC’s night defending the pass was not so positive. Anu Solomon torched the Trojans for 352 yards and three touchdowns through the air. No Trojan defender was immune from that treatment as Chris Hawkins, Plattenburg, Adoree’ Jackson, Kevon Seymour and Iman Marshall each gave up either a big play or a touchdown in turn.. Standout. John Plattenburg. SECONDARY

B. USC was able to effectively blitz and generate pressure against Arizona. Since that has been the biggest criticism of Justin Wilcox’s squad it is worth noting when they get the job done on that front. Still, the ease with which Solomon was able to exploit USC’s secondary should be a concern. The Trojans were operating without Leon McQuay III and Jonathan Lockett, who both sat out injured, so if nothing else added fatigue may have been a factor. Against the strength of the Wildcat side, the Trojans were able to get big stops when they were most needed and looked prepared do so.. 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. Arizona in the comments below.

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