Time for the grades from the USC-Utah thriller at the Coliseum.
The butter-fingered fumbles are becoming a weekly tradition. But who would you rather have directing the second-half comeback? You think the magic is coming from the three-headed monster (The Heltons, Tee Martin) calling plays? Sam Darnold might make mistakes but he is the reason USC is 6-1.
Ronald Jones got only 17 carries but continues to be the consistent aspect of the offense. Except when he and Darnold botch a handoff and he fails to try to recover a backwards pass that becomes a fumble. I could swear after the Texas game the USC coaches said tailbacks needed to be rotated in the first quarter. But now it feels like we don’t see Vavae Malepeai until the second half.
Who figured Tyler Petite would be the deep threat with a 52-yard TD? Deontay Burnett also made his usual clutch catches. It’s still not a dominant receiving corps. And did you know that freshman Randal Grimes did not play? So his redshirt got burned last week and then he doesn’t play this week.
It’s a tough assignment for senior Toa Lobendahn. The line is sliding to protect the freshmen on the right side and that leaves Lobendahn exposed on the left. You can’t judge them by sacks allowed because Sam Darnold makes himself hard to sack.
Christian Rector had two sacks and Josh Fatu had seven tackles but remember Zack Moss gained 141 yards. What exactly have Connor Murphy and Oluwole Betiku done since Porter Gustin got hurt? Neither had a tackle against Utah.
Cameron Smith had a career-high 16 tackles and an interception. The problem is Smith was forced to make that many tackles because Moss kept getting through the line.
Do I need to point out Iman Marshall had a holding penalty? His pass interference didn’t look like much of a penalty. But again, the entire secondary is allowing too many receivers to get open. And again left someone totally uncovered on the 2-point conversion. Talk about lucky.
What is the deal on punt returns? I don’t care if USC gains a single yard on a punt return. But it’s important to not let punts roll for 60-yard punts to the 7-yard line. Does Greig Carlson have any eligibility left?
Who called the pitch play on third-and-10 that gained 1 yard in the third quarter? Do the coaches have the team ready to play? Is the team improving? Why is it that during the second-half comeback, I never felt anythng special was coming from the sideline. It was just Sam Darnold repeatedly pulling rabbits out of the hat. The playcalling process is a mess. It’s why Clay Helton would not answer my question about who calls all the plays.
You want to defend the defense? USC takes a 28-21 lead with 4:54 and the Utes promptly go down the field and score a TD. With the backup QB.