USC Spring Game 2014: Live Game Grades and Analysis

Trenise Ferreira@@TreniseFerreiraUSC Lead WriterApril 20, 2014

USC held its annual Spring Game on Saturday.
USC held its annual Spring Game on Saturday.Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC's offense took on the Trojans defense in Saturday's spring game, and in doing so, we got our first glimpse at how this team looks under head coach Steve Sarkisian.

It was a slightly different spring game than usual in Troy, as injuries and depth concerns limited contact and the amount of plays that the Trojans could run. Still, Sark promised around 100 plays and some live tackling during the scrimmage, and that's what he delivered. 

The Trojans defense (in white) edged out the Trojans offense (in cardinal), 19-15.

It was a significant victory for this unit, as just a few weeks ago, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox mentioned that the defense needed to be more consistent during the tail end of live sessions.

Before we get to grades, here's a look at the point system in place during the spring game:



Field goal: 3 points
Touchdown: 6 points
Extra Point: 1 point
Two-Point Conversion: 2 points



Defensive Stop: 1 point
Three-and-Out: 3 points
Fourth-Down Stop: 3 points
Turnover: 5 points
Touchdown: 7 points

Check out the analysis and final grades here.

USC Spring Game: Grades
Positional UnitFirst-Half GradesFinal Grades
Pass OffenseBA-
Rush OffenseBB
Pass DefenseBB+
Rush DefenseA-A
Special TeamsB-B-
USC spring game


First-Half Analysis for the USC Trojans

Pass Offense: We got to see a little of Cody Kessler, a little of Max Browne and even a little of Jalen Greene in the spring game. Though Browne undoubtedly has a cannon and will be a stud one day, Kessler showed he is clearly the more comfortable of the two and the more composed while running the offense. 

As far as targets are concerned, offensive coordinator Clay Helton said that the new offense would utilize the tight ends more, and the looks that Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick received backed that up. 

Run Offense: The offensive line showed some improvement from last season, though it did give up a few sacks and leave the quarterbacks high and dry at times. It's worth remembering, however, that this position group is still largely in flux, and key members like Aundrey Walker and Zach Banner haven't gotten into the mix yet. We didn't get to see too much from the running backs, but in the few glimpses we had, Buck Allen clearly retains his spot as the front-runner in the Trojans' stable. 

It was a fairly good day for the running backs, but the Trojans did not get away without injury:

Pass Defense: USC's secondary looks good, with Kevon Seymour flying around to disrupt plays and Chris Hawkins locking down his receiver in coverage. Both had an impressive showing, and that's particularly important for Hawkins, who is fighting for a spot in the starting lineup. Josh Shaw was in attendance and addressed the cornerback battle:

Run Defense: USC's run defense continues to be its strength, as was expected. It dominated the line of scrimmage, stifled the ground attack of Allen and found ways to get a hand on the quarterback. The Trojans offense led early on the back of Andre Heidari field goals, but as the scrimmage wore on, the white jerseys took command in the second and third periods, largely thanks to the efforts of the defensive line. The defense kept the Trojans offense from scoring anything other than field goals on the day, a fairly impressive feat. 

Special Teams: Heidari neither impressed nor disappointed in the spring game, but if the Trojans have another option, they might want to consider it in the fall. Heidari nailed four of five on the day, but the one he missed was a short, 34-yard attempt.

Coaching: Other than lining up in the shotgun formation, we didn't see any particularly new and exciting plays from the Trojans. Sark seems to be keeping his new playbook a secret, at least until the fall when more healthy bodies rejoin the ranks. 


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