USC vs. ASU: Studs and duds from Trojans’ blowout win

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 28: Ronald Jones II
TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 28: Ronald Jones II /
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TEMPE, AZ – OCTOBER 28: Ronald Jones II
TEMPE, AZ – OCTOBER 28: Ronald Jones II /

Saturday night’s USC vs. ASU game saw the Trojans go on the road to Tempe and beat the Sun Devils, 48-17. Here are the studs and duds from the big win for Troy.

The lead up to USC vs. ASU was riddled with angst. Coming off an embarrassing loss to rival Notre Dame, and with Arizona State on the rise, the outlook was bleak for Clay Helton’s team.

But much to the Trojan faithful’s delight, the USC that played Stanford in Week 2 showed up and won, 48-17.

Let’s look at the studs and duds from the Trojans’ bounce-back victory.


Ronald Jones II

The Texas Tesla showed up and showed out Saturday night in Tempe, when USC needed him the most. His 18 carries for a season-high 216 yards and two touchdowns were integral in the Trojans’ big night. Jones’ performance was spectacular, and indicative as to why there was criticism after several games with few carries.

Even though head coach Clay Helton promised 25 touches early in the week, the junior running back still received an adequate workload. No one wants to see Jones run into the ground, but more carries while the game is still in question was definitely a need. They did that, and he delivered for USC in a big way.

Tyler Vaughns

One of the wrinkles earlier in the season was to find out if Tyler Vaughns could be the guy on the outside for USC. In the subsequent weeks, he has done more and more to prove he absolutely is. Against ASU, Vaughns had six catches for a career-high 126 yards and two touchdowns.

The redshirt-freshman showed the physicality on the outside the Trojans have been lacking since JuJu Smith-Schuster went pro. Vaughns broke tackles, and even made a tough catch over the middle, absorbing a helmet-to-helmet hit on his second touchdown. The future looks bright for him, as he recorded his first multi-touchdown game as a Trojan.

Sam Darnold

The Trojans’ quarterback reminded people why there is talk about him being a top pro prospect and why there was Heisman Trophy buzz around him to start the season. Darnold flat out played his best game of 2017, with 19-of-35 passing for 266 yards and three touchdowns.

Most importantly, Darnold did not throw any interceptions and only fumbled on a fourth down play that didn’t hurt USC. Even though he left a few throws on the field, he did a good job getting the ball out of his hands and not making huge mistakes. It was a great game-manager performance.

Tee Martin

Offensive coordinator Tee Martin finally did what was asked for. He went Lane Kiffin on us with the running game and Ronald Jones, by finding something that was working and hammering it over and over and over.

USC struggled to get its outside zone going —which should be torn out of the playbook— but found success with the power. They ran behind guard Chris Brown and tackle Toa Lobendahn on the left side, while pulling freshman right guard Andrew Vorhees around to lead through the hole, all night. The key? Martin ran it out of different formations and personnel packages so ASU couldn’t zero in on it.

The USC defense

The USC defense showed up and deserves a lot of credit. Down to almost a bare-bones lineup, with a few players playing out of position they held ASU to just 17 points. Or 10, if you don’t want to count the touchdown the Pac-12 scored on them at halftime. Uchenna Nwosu returned to his defensive MVP form, while Jack Jones would not allow himself to be picked on by big ASU receivers like N’Keal Harry. Porter Gustin and Josh Fatu were also great contributors while returning from injury. This could have been another game the defense would need to be carried in, but instead, they showed up and held their own.