Saturday, October 27, 2012
Grades: Arizona 39, No. 10 USC 36
By Pedro Moura
TUCSON, Ariz. -- USC couldn't pass its final test before the most highly anticipated matchup of its season, falling to Arizona on Saturday, 39-36. Suddenly, next week's game against Oregon sounds a lot less enticing.
Here's a report card for the No. 10 Trojans:
Marqise Lee's almost too good for college football. But he can't do everything. It really seemed like USC's downfall started when Matt Barkley stopped throwing to him in the second half. Despite the mammoth totals, Barkley was a little bit off all day, overthrowing passes from the beginning and throwing two picks.
D.J. Morgan showed flashes of elite running ability, and Silas Redd was basically his normal self. Curtis McNeal's consistency would have helped, but he didn't make the trip to Tucson due to injury. The two fumbles -- one from Morgan and one from Redd -- were really killer.
IN THE TRENCHES
USC's defensive line needed to produce more pressure. This was Morgan Breslin's least spectacular game of the year, and Leonard Williams' most quiet in a while. The O-line actually played pretty decently on passes, with freshman Max Tuerk stepping in at left tackle; but running room was somewhat scarce.
A performance like this needs to be put in perspective. No, the Trojans' D wasn't close to perfect, but Arizona's offensive attack is elite. And USC was doing great until the offense started giving the Wildcats back the ball right away. This was not the reason the Trojans lost.
Kyle Negrete really helped the Trojans' cause with his punting, but the kickoff coverage wasn't great. USC did stop the Wildcats on two two-point plays, and that helped put the game within a closer reach ... as did Marqise Lee's big late return. No game-breakers from the unit, though, and they were needed.
The penalties were bad, again, especially early on. But where were the second half adjustments? All year, Lane Kiffin's squad has been dominated in the third quarter, and the fourth might have been even worse this time. He should have gone to Marqise Lee much more late in the game.