It was hard to find much to quibble about from USC's 52-13 blowout win Saturday over Fresno State in the 2014 season opener. The debut of Steve Sarkisian's uptempo offense generated 702 yards on 104 plays, which was not only a school record but set the Pac-12 mark for offensive snaps in a single game.
But it wasn't just the explosive and diverse offense that impressed for USC. Its defense also stifled a Fresno State program that was one of the most prolific in 2013, but which no longer had its record-breaking quarterback (Derek Carr) available.
Final stats from the game can be found here. Check out our grades of USC's position units and coaching against Fresno, as well as analysis on the different facets of the 39-point victory.
USC Trojans Game Grades
|Position Unit||First Half Grade||Final Grade|
Aug. 30 vs. Fresno State
USC Trojans Game Analysis
Pass Offense: Cody Kessler had the best game of his USC career, completing 25 of 37 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns. Kessler hit 10 different receivers, with junior wideout Nelson Agholor catching two TD passes and a pair of freshmen (Adoree' Jackson and Bryce Dixon) also hauling in scoring strikes. Another freshman, JuJu Smith, led USC with 123 yards on four receptions.
Run Offense: Javorius Allen picked up where he left off in 2013, rushing for 133 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Kessler and fullback Soma Vainuku also had scoring runs, and the Trojans ran behind an offensive line that started two true freshman and managed 268 yards.
Pass Defense: Fresno State quarterbacks Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette were both chased all over the backfield, and though neither was sacked, the pressure USC got up front kept either from being comfortable. The Trojans picked off four passes and held the Bulldogs to 160 passing yards and less than 4.5 yards per attempt.
Run Defense: Fresno's Marteze Waller ran for 94 yards on 17 carries with a pair of touchdowns, and he proved slippery in many cases. Burrell had a 32-yard scamper that came as a result of USC failing to contain the edge, though it did manage to shut down Connette's scampering ability.
Special Teams: USC's punter never had to participate in the game, which was a better effort than Trojans kicker Andre Heidari. Though he made a 27-yard field goal, he also missed a kick just before halftime and then booted the second-half kickoff out of bounds, giving Fresno State a short field that it converted into a touchdown.
Coaching: Sarkisian's play-calling was spot on, and he made sure to get numerous youngsters involved. At least a dozen freshmen played in the game, providing them with valuable experience and establishing depth ahead of the Sept. 6 trip to Stanford.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.