Troy Talk: USC vs. Stanford grades

This weekend wasn’t exactly ideal. Started Saturday morning with my beloved Arsenal losing to Chelsea. Then my Dodgers lose a close one to the Pirates. Then we get blindsided by a completely new and rejuvenated Stanford team reminiscent of the Andrew Luck years. And to top it all off, UCLA comes back down from 10 points in the fourth quarter to beat a good BYU team. It’s safe to say this report card will not be endearing. The average grade will probably be something close to the first midterm grade for OChem. Yeah, that bad.

Quarterback: B

  • Look, all things considered Cody Kessler didn’t do his normal choke job in the big games. In fact, I really liked what I saw from Kessler this game. He was efficient and put the ball in his playmakers’ hands. I was most excited about his elusive scamper that netted us a first down and an eventual touchdown. He helped put up 31 points against a very good Stanford defense, and that’s something to be proud of. But, I hate to say it, Matt Leinart would have won that game. People saw Leinart and knew we were going to win. Kessler has yet to ooze that confidence.

Running Backs: B

  • This group continues to impress me and give me hope that if we figure out our defensive struggles, we can be a great team. Ronald Jones II was a little quieter, but still played well. Tre Madden had an excellent game until he got hurt in the second half with an undisclosed injury. Justin Davis ran harder than usual, and even Dominic Davis provided some flashes of brilliance. We started to get away from pounding the ball and, as a result, Stanford had double our time of possession.

Wide Receivers: B+

  • After losing Nelson Agholor and George Farmer to the draft, I was unsure how dominant this corps would be. But let me say it now, JuJu is even better than everyone thought he was. He has impressed me more than any other player this year. He consistently makes big plays and is tougher than nails. Steven Mitchell also provided a little change of pace with two touchdown grabs. Darreus Rogers had one big catch to set up a touchdown. I hope Sark can get Isaac Whitney and Adoree’ some more touches though.

Offensive Line: B

  • This was an overall good performance from a young group. Going against Stanford is never an easy task, but they protected Kessler pretty well and dominated the run game in the first half. They wore down a little toward the end with stupid penalties and missed assignments. However, there are more positives to be taken from this game than negatives, so good job to the big boys.

Defensive Line: D-

  • Here is where we start to fail the test. And yeah, there is no curve. Our defensive line was awful in every aspect of the game. We were absolutely manhandled in the run game. A very small Christian McCaffrey ran all over us and looked like a mini Toby Gerhart or Tyler Gaffney out there. Our pass rush was literally nonexistent. I believe we had two sacks to start the second half but those came from blitzes. Rushing four men looked like rushing two men. Kevin Hogan, on a bum leg, was able to do anything he wanted. This group needs to fix itself quickly.

Linebackers: D

  • OK, as you can tell by the grade, I am slightly optimistic about this group. They are extremely young. But that isn’t an excuse. There was an inordinate amount of confusion on seemingly every big play. Our rush linebacker position could not get pressure on the quarterback. Every time we blitzed it either got picked up or we completely whiffed the quarterback. There was a lack of composure and a definite display of frustration. We started to miss tackle after tackle, and it was pretty evident early in the third that we couldn’t stop the Stanford attack.

Secondary: D+

  • We are getting better —but not much. This higher grade is mostly due to the lack of pressure upfront. Our secondary was put on an island as Kevin Hogan and his receivers had all the time in the world. But the times that we needed a stop, our secondary fell short. We were out-positioned on key downs and even the normally flawless Adoree’ Jackson slipped and gave up a touchdown. It was evident that the veteran leadership of Kevon Seymour was significantly missed out there.

Special Teams: B-

  • Back to normalcy! Alex Wood continues to impress me after his abysmal start to the season. His kickoffs were much better, and he continues to make his field goals. Kris Albarado had a couple suspect punts, but overall it was a good performance. Adoree’ even added a kick return for a touchdown that got called back on what was apparently a good holding call. Yeah, don’t kill me student section. That undoubtedly changed the momentum of the game, and we were never the same after that.

Overall: C-

  • Poor performance, but we still have to fight on! Beat the Sun Devils.
    • Prediction: 35-27 USC