Hawaii at USC: Postgame Grades for the Trojans' Win vs. the Warriors

Amy Lamare@GridironGoddessSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2012

Hawaii at USC: Postgame Grades for the Trojans' Win vs. the Warriors

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    USC put on an offensive show on the way to its 49-10 rout of Hawaii Saturday evening at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. From the opening play, the Trojans never relinquished control of the game. 

    True, the Warriors were outmatched by this Trojan squad, but for a season labeled "Unfinished Business," USC showed they meant business.   

    While Hawaii is not an opponent of the caliber of, for example, Oregon, it should be noted that this Trojan team is a lot more disciplined and ready for what lies ahead than the team that barely squeaked by Minnesota in last year’s season opener.

    This was USC’s 15th consecutive season-opening win.

Quarterbacks

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    From the opening play—a 75-yard pass to Marqise Lee resulting in a touchdown a mere 14 seconds into the game—to his last play before Max Wittek was put in, senior quarterback Matt Barkley looked polished, at ease and ready for the NFL.

    Matt Barkley is the Heisman front-runner, and Saturday’s masterful control of the offense showed why the Heisman committee and NFL should stand up and take notice of this young man. 

    Barkley threw for 372 yards and four touchdowns on the Trojans' way to the rout of Hawaii.

    Even backup QB Max Wittek put on a decent show when he took the field.

    Grade: A

Running Backs

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    Silas Redd made his Trojan debut with 57 yards rushing, a touchdown and one fumble. He led the running backs with nine carries.

    Redd’s best run (and touchdown) came on a 4th-and-2 early in the second quarter where he gained 31 yards straight up the center of Hawaii’s defense and into the end zone.

    Other than Redd’s contribution, the running attack was curiously subdued. 

    Senior RB Curtis McNeal had only three carries in three quarters. Why he didn’t get more chances to touch the ball is something only Lane Kiffin and his staff know.

    Grade: C+

Wide Receivers

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    It said something pretty special when on the first play from scrimmage, coming off a two-year postseason ban, Barkley connected with sophomore Marqise Lee for a 75-yard touchdown pass roughly 14 seconds into the game.

    The offense was all about Barkley to Lee on Saturday evening.

    Lee finishing with 197 yards on 10 catches, a touchdown and a breathtaking 100-yard kickoff return. Lee was the superstar of the game, and if he has more games like this, he could start to see his name appear on some Heisman Trophy short lists.

    Junior standout Robert Woods had 42 yards on six catches with two touchdowns.

    Grade: A

Tight Ends

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    The Trojan tight ends didn’t see a ton of play on Saturday. Bishop Gorman High School alum Xavier Grimble had a 31-yard catch in the first quarter and a seven-yarder in the second to help advance the Trojan offense.

    Meanwhile, Randall Telfer had a false start, resulting in a five-yard penalty before connecting with an 11 yard pass in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-three play with USC leading by 32 points.

    Grade: B-

Offensive Line

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    The offensive line protected Barkley well in the pocket and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. 

    If we learned anything Saturday, it was that new left tackle Aundrey Walker showed that he has a lot of room for improvement.

    Grade: B

Defensive Line

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    There’s only one number that matters here: five. 

    The Trojans defensive line had five sacks of Warrior QB Sean Schroeder. George Uko and Morgan Breslin showed signs of great pass-rushing potential—something that should warm the hearts of the Trojan faithful.

    Grade: A

Linebackers

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    The linebackers looked good, and not just good for a first game of the season.

    This notably young group forced fumbles, and Hayes Pullard had a fantastic grab off a tipped pass that led to a pick-six.

    Grade: B+

Defensive Backs

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    We knew heading into this game that the strength of USC’s defense lied in its experienced secondary.

    This group lived up to their billing, not allowing Hawaii to gain a proverbial inch, no matter how hard they tried. The Warriors were shut down at every avenue.

    Grade:  A

Special Teams

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    Special teams is a strength of this Trojan team, and Kyle Negrete proved that, averaging more than 45 yards per punt.

    Andre Heidari and Craig McMahon did their job kicking, but they didn’t get much of a chance to kick field goals or PATs. 

    The highlight of Saturday’s special teams play was, of course, Marqise Lee’s electrifying 100-yard kickoff return.

    Grade: A

Coaching

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    Lane Kiffin was up to his old tricks Saturday, calling for the two-point conversion after many of the Trojan touchdowns. Rather than take the gimme with the extra point, the Trojans lost the battle for the two-point conversions, going 0-for-3.

    While the play-calling was varied and interesting, many in the sold-out Coliseum wondered if the running game was ever going to get started.

    Grade: B

Overall Grade: A-

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    Though it seemed like we saw flashes of greatness, it is hard to truly evaluate this Trojan squad based on Hawaii. 

    They do look more together, focused and driven than Kiffin’s early season teams of years past. 

    Under the leadership of Matt Barkley, and with the offensive firepower and defensive displays of strength we saw Saturday, this team could go all the way.

    Grade: A-