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USC vs. Cal Report Card 2017: Grading the Trojan offense and defense

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

USC vs. Cal featured a slow start, but the Trojans rode a dominant defensive performance to the finish line. Here’s how each unit graded out:

Despite the bad omens and worries over a trap game, USC made it out of Berkeley with their perfect record intact.

Once again, the Trojans got a perfect outing from kicker Chase McGrath, who hit all three of his field goal attempts.

How did each offensive and defensive unit graded out by comparison for USC vs. Cal? Here’s the grades:

C. . Noteworthy. Sam Darnold. QUARTERBACK

Saturday was arguably the worst game of Sam Darnold’s starting career. Though he completed 68.4 percent of his passes and tossed two touchdowns, the quarterback’s yards per attempt of 5.9 and QB rating of 129 were his lowest marks as a starter. His 223 yards passing yards was the second-lowest of his career and his single interception could have been a doubled or tripled due to a number of other bad throws which Cal defenders failed to take advantage of.

Darnold was able to produce part of the way, evading pressure on several occasions to extend plays in his usual style, but he could not finish a number of those plays, tossing the ball beyond his receivers’ grasp.

And there were no drops by receivers to explain away USC’s ineffective passing offense this time. Darnold bears much of the responsibility for the off day.

On the plus side, if Darnold’s basement remains at this level, the Trojans are still better off with him at quarterback than most teams.

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