USC vs. Arizona Report Card: Grading the Trojan Offense


USC vs. Arizona was slow to start, but the Trojan offense woke up late to secure the 38-30 win with a healthy dose of rushing.

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

B. Cody Kessler spent too much of his evening trying to keep his jersey clean, but he didn’t throw any interceptions and thus didn’t do anything too egregious to earn a worse grade. His touch on the 72-yard bomb was excellent, but he also missed an open DeQuan Hampton in the end zone at one point. It was far from a stand out evening but it’s hard to scoff at 243 yards and two touchdowns.. Standout. Cody Kessler. QUARTERBACK

Standout. Ronald Jones II. RUNNING BACK. A+. Even though Tre Madden muffed a handoff and gave the Wildcats a turnover, the performance of Ronald Jones II deserves nothing less than an A+. With 177 yards on 19 carries, Jones set a new single-game rushing record for a USC freshman. He averaged 9.3 yards per carry, showing equal amounts of speed, vision and power in his running. He even added a touchdown reception. Justin Davis had a positive showing as well with 85 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.

JuJu Smith-Schuster. RECEIVER. B. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s super-human performance playing less than a week after hand surgery earns him an A, but the rest of the receiving corps was average at best. Smith-Schuster ended up with eight catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, doubling the production of his teammates despite the broken hand and missing a chunk of the game with what appeared to be a cramp. With Smith-Schuster out, USC needed bigger performances from Steven Mitchell and Darreus Rogers, but neither took the step up.. Standout

C. It is harsh to grade an offensive line which cleared the way for 262 yards on the ground so low, but the Trojan front cannot seem to shake free from what feels like perpetual underachievement. Kessler was sacked twice, but that number could have been greater as the passing game in general was made untenable by USC’s inability to cope with the pass rush. Zach Banner avoided his usual penalties, but Khaliel Rodgers and Damien Mama both had false starts contribute to derailed Trojan drives.. Standout. Khaliel Rodgers. OFFENSIVE LINE

B. USC’s slow start was not the kind of thing that would add positives to Clay Helton’s application to be the permanent head coach, especially when his offense persisted with a struggling passing attack for so long. The contest against Arizona was looking a lot like the one in Steve Sarkisian’s final game as head coach against Washington. Thankfully, Helton seems to have learned from that experience because he salvaged his grade and the game by doing the obvious –he rode his ground attack. It didn’t happen right away, but eventually, Jones and Davis were given the opportunity to win the game for the Trojans. It was especially gratifying to see Jones receive 19 carries, a career high.. 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. Arizona in the comments below.

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