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What we learned in USC’s season-opening victory

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This team has the FIGHT in them

Arizona State v USC Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The USC Trojans are 1-0 and that’s all the matters at this point. How they got to 1-0 doesn’t matter as much as the final result but it’s still important to look back at what we learned from this USC team in their dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Arizona State on Saturday.

USC’s dramatic victory saw them score two touchdowns in a matter of moments that needed a successful onside kick attempt to gain the final result. Ultimately, USC got a final push from all sides of the ball in the win: offense, defense and special teams. The rest of the Pac-12 schools in California weren’t so fortunate as to have that as Stanford missed four field goals and UCLA’s offense fumbled away any chances for their comeback attempt.

Here’s what we learned from the win over Arizona State:

Wide receivers need to do a bit more

The wide receiver room was largely seen as one of the best in the country, if not the best receiver room in the nation this year. However, it was Drake London that broke out in this game with an awesome performance that included the game-winning reception. Tyler Vaughns and Bru McCoy fumbled and Amon-Ra St. Brown had two drops. Those are likely issues that can be corrected, and fortunately for USC, they do have enough star-caliber players to mitigate struggles from one or two players.

Early downfield chemistry seemed off for Slovis

It was clear in this one early on that the short area of the field is where Graham Harrell wanted Kedon Slovis to attack. However, the zone coverage that ASU ran really stymied much more than a few chunks of yards at a time. When Slovis did chuck it deep (20+ yards past the line of scrimmage), it was clear he was off. Slovis finished 5-10 for 131 yards and a touchdown on deep shots but did have multiple errant throws before he fourth quarter.

The running back room needs touches

Sure the receivers are great but the trio of Markese Stepp, Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr really started to thrive in this game as they received more touches. Malepeai averaged a whopping 7.5 yards per carry and Stepp churned out four first-down runs and a score, but each of them fumbled on the afternoon, early. There more impressive runs each came well after carry five or six.

The defensive line is ferocious

Led by interior defender Marlon Tuipulotu, the defensive line caused a ton of havoc on ASU QB Jayden Daniels. Each starter along the defensive line had multiple pressures and were each effective in the rushing game.

Best coverage unit in the South?

Odds are this is not quite the best coverage unit in the country with Oregon’s secondary full of NFL draft picks, but it may be closer than anticipated. Olaijah Griffin and Chris Steele didn’t allow a catch in their coverage in the game while slot cornerback Max Williams also held Daniels to a 0.0% completion percentage. Combined, Griffin, Steele and Williams saw eight targets and didn’t allow a catch between them.

USC takes on Arizona in Week 2 of the Pac-12 season. The Wildcats had their game against Utah cancelled after Utah had an outbreak of COVID-19 positive cases so we didn’t quite get a look at Kevin Sumlin’s team yet.

The game time is still yet to be determined for the USC-Arizona matchup but it will be on Saturday, November 14.

FIGHT ON