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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Norm Hall/Getty Images
Norm Hall/Getty Images /


The Blocking on RPOs

RPOs, or run-pass options, have become a staple of USC’s offense. Traditionally, the passing option is a quick slant or a skinny post, or simply a route the quarterback doesn’t have to hold the ball long to throw and keep the offense from getting an ineligible man downfield penalty. However, it was clear USC had seen something in ASU’s secondary: they could throw deeper than normal on RPO’s

While it was successful on multiple occasions in the first half, the referees were on the lookout during the second. USC had two great RPO decisions called back because the routes were deeper and an offensive linemen got downfield. Hard play-action fakes are good, but there needs to be better coaching to make sure uncovered linemen do not wander too far downfield.

Pac-12 Referees

There might not be another conference with more questionable officiating than the Pac-12. It seems every single week there is a multitude of calls that leave you scratching your head. The most amazing —and damning— thing about these calls, is that you still wonder what is going on, regardless of the direction of a call.

After a questionable decision last week by the ACC crew, this Week 9 Pac-12 crew did not want to be outdone. The highlight —or lowlight— of the night was Arizona State’s Hail Mary to Kyle Williams right before halftime.

The original replays did not reveal indisputable video evidence the ball was caught and/or carried across the plane of the goal line. And the angle shown afterwards by the ESPN broadcast as the one that convinced replay officials showed the ball may have been moving when Williams hit the ground.

Throw in the side judge playing hide and seek with USC in the tunnel following the reversal, not calling pass interference when the aforementioned Williams was tackled by Ajene Harris, and a ticky-tack unnecessary roughness penalty on ASU’s Tashon Smallwood, and fans of the Pac-12 After Dark were treated to the full-blown refs-with-a-reputation experience.

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The Todd Graham blitz package

Recent ASU defenses are typically known for blitzing from all different angles and directions. It is a part of the reason ASU had been so successful in recent weeks. But even though head coach Todd Graham and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett came after Sam Darnold early in the game, his ability to get the ball out quickly to Tyler Vaughns and let him break tackles struck fear into the Sun Devils defense and caused them to back off. When doing so, USC was able to hammer them the with run game.

Honorable Mention: USC’s Hail Mary defense

Just knock the ball down. Arizona State doesn’t need to be helped completing deep passes.