Holiday Bowl Report Card: Grading the USC Defense


The Holiday Bowl presented the USC defense with the tough challenge of prepping without a complete staff, but the Trojans were still disappointing against a vanilla Wisconsin attack.

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

Delvon Simmons. DEFENSIVE LINE. B. Delvon Simmons had his best game as a Trojan in the Holiday Bowl, so at the very least the defensive line had a bright spot. With a more regularly employed four-man front, the Trojans were able to keep Wisconsin’s running game in check for the most part. Simmons was a major part of that with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. Anwaun Woods also finished his career with a solid outing logging eight tackles, including one for loss. However, USC failed to generate a sack and the pass rush was not effective enough to disrupt Joel Stave’s rhythm.. Standout

Su'a Cravens. LINEBACKER. D. True to form, Su’a Cravens was USC’s top performer at linebacker, but the Badgers did a good job of neutralizing him by simply avoiding him. That left the rest of the linebacker corps to pick up the slack, but they were found wanting. Porter Gustin was a non-factor, Scott Felix missed his patented tackle, while Anthony Sarao was exploited by tight ends throughout the night.. Standout

C. Marvell Tell earned the start and led all Trojan defensive backs with eight tackles while adding a pass break up. The trouble is that Wisconsin was too often able to win man-to-man battles against USC’s secondary as a whole as Stave completed 18-0f-27 passes for 217 yards. Iman Marshall had two deflections but he also gave the Badgers a first down on a pass interference penalty. Chris Hawkins had Stave in his grasp for a sack but whiffed on the tackle.. Standout. Marvell Tell. SECONDARY

C. Peter Sirmon’s decision to utilize more four-man fronts was rewarded early on as the Trojans held their own against the run-first Wisconsin offense. However, the Badgers figured out USC’s game plan and were able to exploit gaps in the middle of the field in the passing game. It was a tough ask for Sirmon to run the defense under these circumstances, but Wisconsin’s offense is no juggernaut.. Standout. Peter Sirmon. COACHING

What say you Trojan fans? Vote in the poll and let us know how you feel about USC’s defensive performance vs. Wisconsin in the comments below.

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