Saturday, September 3, 2011
By Pedro Moura
This is a very easy grade to give out. Robert Woods was absolutely prolific, and Matt Barkley was sharp throughout the game. A couple young players also shined at times, including freshman Marqise Lee and second-year tight end Randall Telfer.
In his first career start and first collegiate game, D.J. Morgan proved a capable runner and worthwhile winner of the temporary starting job at tailback. But coach Lane Kiffin's insistence on utilizing the passing game the majority of the time was telling. Where was Dillon Baxter?
IN THE TRENCHES
An 'A' for the defensive line and a 'C' for the offensive line equates to a 'B' for the trenches in my book. The big uglies struggled, as expected, but the defensive linemen were mostly fantastic, rushing Minnesota's quarterback, MarQueis Gray, with regularity.
This was an OK performance, but the fact that it was against Minnesota plays into the grade. The Gophers' first touchdown came on a drive that started on the USC 30-yard line, so this unit essentially held them to a field goal and one touchdown.
Walk-on punter Kyle Negrete showed why he won the starting job over a scholarship player with his first punt, downed at the 3-yard line, but the Trojans didn't utilize kicker Andre Heidari very frequently, and the failed two-point conversions were odd and ineffective.
The early playcalling made a lot of sense as the Trojans highlighted their strengths and minimized their weaknesses, but that changed some as the game went on. Kiffin's going to get a lot flak for those two two-point attempts that didn't work.