Friday, August 30, 2013
3 up, 3 down: USC 30, Hawaii 13
By Johnny Curren
LOS ANGELES -- A look at the positives and negatives from USC’s 30-13 season-opening victory over Hawaii on Thursday.
1. USC defensive front seven
Clancy Pendergast’s attacking 5-2 defense quickly emerged as the story of the game, thanks in large part to the performance of a relentless Trojans front seven. Getting after Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham early and often, the unit paced a defense that collected seven sacks -- including two each by defensive ends Leonard Williams and George Uko -- while forcing the inexperienced passer to throw four interceptions. They also helped limit the Rainbow Warriors to just 23 yards on the ground.
2. USC safety play
With the USC defense running primarily out of its nickel package, Josh Shaw, Su'a Cravens and Dion Bailey all played extensively and had impressive outings. Bailey had arguably the best night, amassing seven tackles, one sack and one interception. Shaw and Cravens also made picks of their own, with Shaw taking his back for a touchdown.
3. USC tailbacks
While it wasn’t necessarily the best showing by the USC offense, one unit that did stand out was the tailback corps. Tre Madden led the group with 109 yards on 18 carries, but it was freshman Justin Davis who really caught everyone’s attention, running with confidence on his way to 74 yards and one touchdown.
1. USC offensive line
The Trojans' offensive line had its struggles for much of the game, particularly against the Hawaii pass rush. They gave up three sacks -- including one that resulted in a safety -- and it seemed as if the Rainbow Warriors were in the USC offensive backfield on just about every passing situation. The play of the offensive line was also a major reason why the Trojans finished just 3-for-14 on third-down conversions.
2. USC quarterback production
It’s hard to fault USC quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek too much when they were running for their lives at times. It also didn’t help matters that their star wideout -- Marqise Lee -- had a couple of uncharacteristic drops. Still, while neither performed particularly badly, they also didn’t exactly shine, with Kessler completing 10-of-19 passes for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and Wittek connecting on 5-of-10 attempts for 77 yards.
3. The situation at cornerback
The USC secondary was dealt a blow when both starting cornerbacks -- Kevon Seymour and Anthony Brown -- went down with undisclosed injuries. If they return this week, there might not be a problem. But if not, can Devian Shelton and Torin Harris -- who were both victimized at times by Hawaii -- raise their level of play? Will Shaw, who started seven games at cornerback last season, be moved back over? Only time will tell.