If you had the USC Trojans (3-1,1-1) leading the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1) 35-0 at halftime, you knew something that all of us didn't because last night's game was unexpected. I expected a high scoring game with very little defense (I predicted 48-34) but the Trojans basically held the Sun Devils to seven points and a garbage time touchdown while Cody Kessler tore apart the Sun Devils passing defense. Here are my observations from yesterday's victory:
There was no let down as Sarkisian had the Trojans ready to play:
You know what I saw on the sideline last night that I didn't see against Stanford, life. The Trojans were energetic after almost every play as USC bounced back after a disappointing loss last weekend. Steve Sarkisian, with all the rumors surrounding him this week and his 0-4 record against ASU entering last night, had his Trojans ready to play and out-coached Todd Graham. Justin Wilcox, who might have been the most hated man in LA after the Stanford loss, held the Sun Devils to 14 points and forced four turnovers in which the Trojans were able to capitalize with 28 points. Wilcox brought the blitzes at the right time and the cover schemes worked well against ASU QB Mike Bercovici.
Cody Kessler with another strong performance:
Besides his third attempt of the night which resulted in an interception on a miscommunication, Cody Kessler had another great game, throwing for 375 yards and five touchdowns. Kessler had his fourth game of at least five passing touchdowns of his career and moved to third all-time on the school list with 74 passing touchdowns and fifth all-time with 642 completions. Kessler did a great job of spreading the wealth as seven Trojans had at least one receptions and how about that 21-yard rush on 3rd and 16 in the first quarter!
The wheel route from Kessler to Adoree' should be defined as illegal because it can't be stopped:
On a 3rd and 13 on their own 20 yard-line, Kessler signaled for a motion as Adoree' Jackson moved to the right of him in the shotgun formation. After the snap, Jackson ran to the right side and cut up toward the sideline. With no one in sight, Kessler threw the ball to Jackson who caught it and used a burst of speed to run past Sun Devil safety Jordan Simone before jogging for the next 50 yards to the end zone. Not a single defender in the country besides maybe Michigan corner Jabrill Peppers could stop Jackson in an one-on-one situation and when the Trojans isolate Jackson, it should result in a big gain every time. Jackson also had a 45-yard reception on the night in which he juked multiple Sun Devils and was two yards from his second touchdown on the night. He finished the night with three receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown.
USC actually converted on third downs, I know it's a shocker:
Entering last night, the Trojans were 117th out of 128 on third down conversions. USC had eight third down conversions in the first half, tying the total amount of conversions they had entering the game. USC finished the night with 10 conversions in 16 attempts. A lot of the credit has to go to Cody Kessler and the wide receivers as they were able to find open holes in the ASU defense.
Penalties, Penalties, Penalties:
Ten penalties for 92 yards for the Trojans last night with most of them coming from the offensive line. A lot of holding calls by the o-line negated yardage and pushed the Trojans offense back. USC's offensive line is experienced but last night at times, it looked as if the Sun Devil crowd noise caused a lot of struggles.