USC vs Stanford Report Card 2016: Grading the Trojan Offense

Sep 17, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Max Browne (4) gestures during a NCAA football game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Max Browne (4) gestures during a NCAA football game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

There were positives to be gleaned for the Trojan offense, but the USC vs Stanford match up still ended with disappointing production.

At times, USC’s offense looked like a capable outfit, moving down the field against a stout Stanford defense on Saturday in Palo Alto.

Unfortunately, the Trojans remained mistake-prone, finding the end zone just once as Stanford emerged the victors of a comfortable 27-10 game.

SEE ALSO: Grading the Trojan defense vs Stanford

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

B. . Standout. Max Browne. QUARTERBACK

Browne will continue to draw blame from some segments in Los Angeles, but there was little wrong with his performance against the Cardinal.

The Trojan QB completed 18-of-28 passes for 191 yards. Two of those passes could have been for touchdowns, but tight end Tyler Petite stumbled on his way to the goal line on one 38-yard strike while JuJu Smith-Schuster was held and failed to haul in a one-handed catch in the endzone on a perfectly thrown ball.

Browne did have some throws he would want back, took a sack in a key moment and didn’t appear mobile enough to make plays on roll outs. Still, the biggest fault for the quarterback against Stanford was that he didn’t put the team on his back.

A. . Standout. Justin Davis. RUNNING BACK

Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II averaged better then five yards per carry on 25 rushes.

It was just a shame that the scoreline required more passing in the second half, because the Trojan running backs were by far the most effective element of USC’s offense.

. Standout. Tyler Petite. RECEIVER. B

The Trojans finally made good use of the tight end against Stanford as Browne found Petite three times for 73 yards, a game-best tied with Christian McCaffrey.

Receiver Steven Mitchell also put in his best performance of the season with five catches for 55 yards. Meanwhile, Darreus Rogers and Deontay Burnett contributed 26 and 41 yards respectively.

That’s a good showing from the supporting cast of USC’s passing attack.

The trouble is, the star was nowhere to be found. JuJu Smith-Schuster caught the ball three times, but, as was the case against Alabama, he was absent for long stretches. Curiously, Tee Martin didn’t seem invested in finding ways to get him in the game until the fourth quarter either.

And when the ball did come his way in the endzone, the receiver couldn’t make the key catch.

. Standout. Damien Mama. OFFENSIVE LINE. C

It’s a credit to the offensive line that against a quick and potent Stanford defensive front, they were able to open up running lanes with much more regularity and only allowed four tackles for loss — they had given up eight and nine in the first two games.

From a blocking perspective it was an encouraging performance, one that could give USC hopes for the future.

However, from a discipline perspective it was a major step back. The line had six false starts on the night in a stadium that could be considered the quietest and least hostile of all the venues in the Pac-12. Those penalties put USC’s offense in a hole on nearly every drive of the first half, which put the Trojans in a hole for the game.

Tee Martin. COACHING. F. . Standout

The laundry list of coaching complaints against Stanford is a long one.

It took coaches a half full of false starts to change to a silent count to stop Stanford’s linemen from attempting to jump the snap.

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It took Martin until the fourth quarter to manufacture touches for Smith-Schuster and just as long to try Adoree’ Jackson on offense.

Regularly, the Trojans went away from what was working, moving away from the run when it was at its most effective.

Most worryingly, Clay Helton opted to punt from the Stanford side of the field down 17 points with ten minutes on the clock.

Then, he threw Sam Darnold in the game with under five minutes to go, still down 17, either conceding the game or, intentionally or not, undermining Browne’s place as USC’s quarterback.

USC only managed to score ten points, but the performance of the players on the night should have yielded more.