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Oregon State vs. USC: Game Grades, Analysis for the Trojans

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2014

Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler passes the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

It wasn't pretty, but the USC Trojans sent the Oregon State Beavers home thinking about an embarrassing 35-10 loss.

Though USC committed 14 penalties, its defense was the bright spot in a decent overall performance.

USC Trojans Game Grades
Positional UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseB+B+
Run OffenseB-A-
Pass DefenseA-A
Run DefenseC+B
Special TeamsCC
CoachingBB+
vs. Oregon State in Week 5

Passing Offense

Cody Kessler did not dominate, but he spread the ball around and connected with nine different receivers. Eight players tallied at least two catches, with Darreus Rogers' 48-yard touchdown grab being the highlight.

Rogers catch was the most important catch of the game. The Beavers would have been content with a four-point deficit at the break, but they looked deflated during the second half while playing from a double-digit hole.

Dr. Saturday @YahooDrSaturday

USC hits on a 48-yard Hail Mary from Cody Kessler to Darreus Rogers to end the half against Oregon State. https://t.co/dcWwBHjCcr

Running Offense 

USC relied heavily on Kessler during the first 30 minutes, but Buck Allen and Justin Davis dominated the second half. Overall, the duo combined to gain 197 yards, and both players found the end zone on rushing touchdowns.

Pass Defense

Oregon State's Richard Mullaney hauled in a couple jump-balls downfield, but it's hard to criticize the secondary on well-covered passes in which the receiver makes a tough, contested catch. Su'a Cravens returned a pick 30 yards for a score, and Leon McQuay snared an interception in the end zone for another defensive TD.

USC gave Sean Mannion few easy looks, as the Beaver quarterback never looked comfortable thanks to constant pressure and tight coverage by USC. Mannion completed 4-of-13 passes during the second half for 16 yards.

September 27, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Southern California Trojans cornerback Adoree' Jackson (2) breaks up a pass intended for Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Jordan Villamin (13) during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Souther
USA TODAY Sports

Run Defense

Despite some rather pedestrian rushing numbers, Storm Woods and Terron Ward actually had solid showings against the Trojans. For some reason, however, Oregon State abandoned the ground game and relied on Mannion's arm—unsuccessfully, that is.

Woods and Ward combined for 90 yards on 16 attempts. USC's front seven certainly wasn't complaining about the lack of running plays, but it needs to improve in that area.

Special Teams

Andre Heidari yanked a 36-yard field goal but did convert four extra points, so it wasn't all bad for the senior. Kris Albardo averaged 40.5 yards per punt, pinning Oregon State inside its own 10-yard line three times.

The most glaring issue was the Trojans kick coverage, which allowed Ryan Murphy to return a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Fortunately for the Trojans, it didn't come back to haunt them.

Coaching

Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox had his unit prepared for a bounce-back performance, and it shined. Oregon State entered the night averaging 447 yards and 31.7 points per outing, but USC limited its opponent to just 181 total yards.

The offense still has some issues, but Kessler and Co. converting 11-of-22 third and fourth downs was outstanding.

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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