USC season opener went about what some expected. The Trojans found themselves in a first half struggle against UNLV before pulling away in the second half. Sounds a lot like last year’s season opener right? Before we turn our attention to Stanford, here are three things to takeaway from USC’s 43-21 victory over UNLV.
JT Daniels and Amon-Ra St. Brown Connection
JT Daniels managed to have a clean impressive debut. The first half was a struggle for Daniels as he had some timing issues with receivers and throwing issues, however the true freshman had a very familiar target that was right there with him. The two connected a few times, including a 43 yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Amon-Ra St. Brown finished with a team leading 7 receptions for 98 yards while Daniels went 22-35 for 282 yards through the air. Next week they will see a much stiffer test when USC travel to face No.15 Stanford.
Offensive Line Needs Improvement
Against a UNLV defense that gave up over 250 yards a game on the ground, the Trojans offenseive line had issues opening up holes for the running backs. Missed blocks and guys getting right by them took place through most of the game. Felt as if there were some chemistry issues on the line, something that can be fixed. Most of the runs came from the running backs making defenders miss and Aca’Cedric Ware showing everyone that he has really improved during camp. The absence of senior center Toa Lobendahn didn’t help things, but redshirt freshman Brett Neilon had a solid game taking snaps. There is a positive as the Trojans pass protection was pretty spot on. USC offensive line only gave up 2 sacks through out the game.
USC Defensive Strong As Expected
If there was one thing that was consistent, it was the USC defense. The Trojans managed to record 5 sacks on UNLV quarterback Armani Rodgers and hold him to 92 yards passing. The Rebels biggest play only came off a reverse that led to a touchdown, something that hurt the USC defense all last season. One player that stood out was senior linebacker Porter Gustin. If there was any worries about him showing ill-effects from his torn meniscus, those were quickly gone after his chase down sack on Armani Rodgers. The defense will see a stiff challenge against Stanford running back and Heisman pre-season favorite Bryce Love.