USC vs. UCLA Report Card: Grading the Trojan Offense


The Trojan offense took some time to get into the USC vs. UCLA match up, but earned high marks for taking control late.

Clay Helton embraced his inner David Shaw and the Trojans their inner Stanford with methodical production to crush UCLA’s hopes inch-by-inch during Saturday’s 40-21 victory.

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

B. USC seems to be at it’s best when Cody Kessler is asked to do less. Against the Bruins, less was certainly more. In a vintage 2013 performance, Kessler hit on two touchdown passes but managed just 175 yards on 26 attempts. In the face of pressure throughout, he only took one sack and did a good job of extending plays by moving around and out of the pocket as needed. It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.. Standout. Cody Kessler. QUARTERBACK

A. Justin Davis built on last week’s performance with an even more impressive one against UCLA. With 132 yards on 25 carries, Davis carried the Trojan offense in the second half with intelligent and instinctual running through the heart of the Bruin defense. Ronald Jones had just 64 yards on 17 carries, but broke Charles White’s freshman rushing record all the same. Tre Madden only had seven carries, but his tough running was essential for USC in short yardage.. Standout. Justin Davis. RUNNING BACK

RECEIVER. A. Darreus Rogers gave yet another flash of what could be with another impressive touchdown grab, this one extending for the catch, then contorting his body to reach the ball across the goal line. JuJu Smith-Schuster led all Trojan receivers with six catches for 85 yards, while Taylor McNamara snagged the dagger touchdown pass. Only four receivers caught passes, but considering there was less to go around, the production was enough.. Standout. Darreus Rogers

B. If the grade was for run blocking, it would be closer to an A. If the grade was for pass blocking it would be closer to a D. Such is life with the Trojan offensive line. They cleared the way for 249 yards on the ground including a pair of long scoring drives in the second half to kill the game off. However, Kessler was pressured far too often and too quickly to be pleased with that aspect of the unit. Given all that, it is incredible that a line which featured a fourth string center — Nico Falah — for much of the game was able to function at all. To Falah’s credit, there was no noticeable drop off with him in the action for Khaliel Rodgers, who was dealing with injury.. Standout. Nico Falah. OFFENSIVE LINE

Clay Helton. COACHING. A. Offensively the first half and second half for USC were night and day. The Trojans settled for field goals instead of completing touchdown drives, allowing UCLA a scoring advantage closed only by Adoree’ Jackson’s special teams touchdowns. However, as is his signature now, Helton’s offense emerged from half time with a strong identity. Run the ball. Run the ball. And run the ball some more. That strategy yielded 59 rushing attempts for USC in the game and two clock-killing second-half drives which shutdown any chance for UCLA to get back in the game. For that, Helton earned top marks.. Standout

SEE ALSO: Defensive Grades vs. UCLA

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