The Coliseum was rocking on Saturday, as was the Trojan offense.
If it weren't for the two interceptions this would easily be an 'A+'. Sam Darnold was sharp all night as he went 21-26 with 316 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, all against a highly-touted Cardinal defense. Darnold did a pretty good job spreading the ball around, too – he ended up getting seven different receivers involved in the passing attack. This game will bode well for him come Heisman voting time.
Running Back: A+
The backfield was on point tonight; Stephen Carr and Ronald Jones II both went over 100 yards rushing and really set the tone for the offense – all the while Jones II added two rushing touchdowns and Carr averaged a whopping 10.8 yards per carry.
Wide Receiver: A
Deontay Burnett, welcome to the party. The junior receiving had his coming out party as he amassed 9 receptions for 121 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Steven Mitchell, Jr also got in on the action as he added another 2 touchdowns along with 94 receiving yards. There was some concern heading into this week about whether or not USC would get any sort of production from this group. Suffice to say, these guys were probably listening and they did more than enough to answer the call.
Offensive Line: A+
This unit was absolutely phenomenal against the Cardinal. I mean, they only allowed one sack and they virtually played mistake-free ball. They opened up running lanes that I could have ran through. They gave Darnold the time he needed to make the throws we expect him to make. I had some worries about the offensive line heading into the 2017 season but, man, they sure did do a good job of shutting me up. If they can continue this kind of play for the rest of the season...look out. This Trojan offense will be lethal.
Defensive Line: B+
If there were a grade between a 'B+' and a 'B' then that's what I would choose. We don't live in that kind of world, though. Overall, not a bad game from this bunch: Josh Fatu had a sack but, overall, there was some difficulties in keeping Stanford's Bryce Love in check – he ended up gaining 160 yards on 17 carries, along with 1 touchdown. Other than that, the defensive line (and linebackers) did a really great job of bothering Chryst all night.
The grades for the defensive line and this linebacker group, I feel, could be interchangeable. Both units did a really good job of disrupting Keller Chryst's rythym on a consistent basis. Having Cam Smith on the field is obviously huge - he led the defense with 8 total tackles. The rush defense needs some help but, generally, the unit mostly held its own - despite the the production given up to Bryce Love, there were some nice things to takeaway from this group.
Defensive Back: B+
The defensive backfield really benefited from the front seven, which is great. Again, Chryst's couldn't get into ryhtym all game and that gave the secondary the opportunity to keep these receivers in check all night; no Cardinal receiver had over 70 yards receiving and the leading pass-catcher for them – JJ Arcega-Whiteside – only had 4 receptions.
Special Teams: B
Sort of hard to grade this group – there were no punt return or kick returns for the Trojans. Kicker Chase McGrath did convert on all six of his extra point attempts, though. This grade would be higher if it weren't for the fact that Stanford's Cameron Scarlett averaged 27.5 yards per kick return, capped off by a return of 46 yards.
Overall Team Score: A+
I know that the mean of the positional scores do not equate to an 'A+" but, come on, there isn't much to gripe about – as I said before, I had concerns about any mistakes from week 1 being carried over into week 2 and, well, those concerns were squelched pretty emphatically. This is definitely a game that USC will look to build its run to the PAC 12 Championship (and, hopefully, the College Football Playoff) on.
Next week we see the 2-0 Trojans take on a Longhorns team coming off a 56-0 stomping of San Jose State University.