Editor's Note - I'll have my general recap up later tonight, but as for now, here is what will become a weekly report card feature by one of our newer writers, Alicia de Artola, a senior Print Journalism major here at USC.
The offense and defense finally clicked on the same day, but did they make the grade?
Matt Barkley was close to perfect. In fact, there would be a plus next to his grade if he had completed any of his final three passes at the goal line midway through the third quarter and set the school record for most touchdown passes in a game. Honestly his stat line alone explains the high marks - 25/37, 352 yards, 5 touchdowns (and they were pretty). You cannot ask more of a quarterback.
Running backs: B
The running game looked solid, but took a back seat to the Matt Barkley show for most of the contest. Marc Tyler had a nice game. His 79 yards (11.3 yard average) led the backs and he contributed to the scoring with an 11 yard touchdown. CJ Gable was a work horse with 72 yards on 13 carries, effectively running out the clock in the second half. It was disappointing to not see more from Allen Bradford and his two fumbles don't help his case for more carries.
Wide Receivers: A
Ronald Johnson. Robert Woods. Two touchdowns apiece. Does anything more need to be said? (Props also to David Ausberry who caught a touchdown and had a solid game)
Offensive Line: B+
They protected Barkley and gave him plenty of time to throw for the most part. The holes weren't always there for the running backs but they certainly had the upper hand over the Cal defensive line.
When a team scores 48 there can't be much to complain about on offense and that is the case here. Barkley, Rojo and Woods have this offense gunning.
TJ McDonald had a beautiful interception and the safeties didn't get exposed. That's a pretty good showing for this group.
Like the safeties, they didn't get burned, which is a positive. But the Cal receivers also made it very easy for them. On several occasions open receivers dropped very catch-able balls. Shareece Wright in particular should be covering better than he is.
This grade is high, but it's relative to the recent performances by this linebacking corp. Chris Galippo seemed to make quite a difference starting for the injured Malcolm Smith. If the linebackers can play this well for the rest of the season the defense will be in much better shape.
Defensive Line: A
They dominated the Cal offensive line from start to finish. Nick Perry and company harassed Kevin Riley the whole game and they kept the Bears' dangerous runner Shane Vareen in check with just 53 yards. Throw in Dajohn Harris' interception and this is the kind of performance fans have been waiting to see from a much hyped defensive line.
Without a doubt the best defensive performance by USC this season. And it comes at a fortuitous time with the explosive Oregon offense on the horizon.