USC Performance Review

<p class=txt>Grading out the team performance, unit by unit.

Offense

The offense started the game on fire. 21 quick points were put on the board and the offense seemed capable of moving the ball at will on the Trojan defense. However, after the Kyle Boller fumble the offense seemed to go into a shell and could not manage to do anything against a good but not great Trojan defense. All this talk about the Trojan defense but in the end the Cal offense was the group that stopped itself. If they had put to solid halves together Cal would have won going away.

Grade: C+/B-


Quarterbacks

Kyle Boller continues to show incredible character and grit. Very few quarterback at the college level have been able to show Kyle's level of tenacity. His bulldog mentality will serve him well at the next level as well as the remainder of the 2002 season. The final drive by Kyle was proof that he'll fight to the bitter end.

Grade: C+/B-



Running Backs

One of the keys to a California victory was being able to control the clock by running. Joe Igber only had 14 carries totaling 45 yards. Igber was able to hurt the Trojans early in the contest but late in the game he was a non-factor. Cal won't be able to win many ball games if Joe Igber doesn't have at 75 yards rushing and over 125 yards of all-purpose yards. The lack of a power running game hurt the Bears severely because USC did not pay for its continual run blitzes and stunts.

Grade: B+


Offensive Line


The offensive line was solid for the first half yet in the second half they couldn't make the holes for Joe Igber. The O-line gave Kyle Boller enough time on most of the pass routes. Certainly not one of the offensive lines best games but they are still the team's most consistent unit. Play calling was more responsible for the poor running game in the second half. Even a great offensive line can't stop 7 or 8 men on a run blitz. 

Grade: B


Wide Receivers

The receivers had another big day and continued to show that they are the most improved unit on the team. They made it possible for Cal to jump out to a 21-3 lead. Unfortunately a dropped pass at a crucial moment in the game was one of the many deciding factors in the game, which ultimately cost the Bears. The unit is improving each week but they need to be on their A game to give Cal a chance to win on the road.

Grade: B-

Defense

The defense gave up a lot of yards again, but this time it wasn't their fault. The offense provided no push in the second half and as a result the defense was on the field for nearly 40 minutes of the football game. The defense gave a good enough performance to win, but in the end they just couldn't do the impossible and completely shut down the USC Offense after continual three and outs by the Cal "O".


Grade: C+


Defensive Line

The defensive line got the Carson Palmer early and looked like it was on its way to a huge day. However once the USC offense gained momentum the defensive line was getting blown off the ball repeatedly and was unable to stop the Trojan forward push. You could just see the defensive line run out of steam in the fourth quarter yet they were able to keep Cal in the game by a thread. Tom Canada's shoestring sack of Carson Palmer was a critical play and gave Cal a chance to drive for the game-winning touchdown.

Grade C+/B-


Linebackers

The linebackers had their worst game. They were able to shoot the gaps and stop the run early in the game but as the game wore on they couldn't stop Sultan McCullough nor could they cover the tight end Alex Holmes down the middle of the field. The loss of Jon Klotsche was very apparent in the second half. 

Grade: C

Secondary: 

The secondary had the best day of all the defensive units. They made quite a few outstanding plays and for the most part stifled the deep throws to the Trojan wide receivers. Jameel Powell had a huge game with two interceptions and Nnamdi Asomugha is giving NFL scouts a lot to drool at with his ability to play both corner and safety. This unit had a great game despite being on the field for so long. Once Cal can generate a consistent pass rush this unit will have a monstrous game.

Grade: B


Special Teams

Special teams had an outstanding game. They kept the Trojans pinned deep in their territory time after time and "gunner" Mike McGrath had another huge game by making some excellent solo tackles in the open field. Normally special teams have cost Cal points in the past but in this game they kept Cal in the game.

Grade: A-


Overall

This was a game Cal should have put away and won going away. Cal clearly delivered a huge blow to USC early and had the Trojans on their heels. Unfortunately Cal didn't deliver that knockout blow and left USC climb back in the game. It seems strange that with 4-3 record against an extremely difficult schedule that I'm slightly disappointed with Cal's record. Certainly had someone said that Cal would be 4-3 and 1-2 the Pac-10 after the first seven games I would have taken it in a heartbeat, but having seen this team play through these first seven games they certainly could be 5-2, 6-1 or even 7-0. However, I can see the change in attitude in the Cal program and without depth and talent at all the positions Cal still has to play nearly perfect games to beat top 25 opposition. They can't coast or have an off day in they want to beat those types of teams. With all this being said on to my points of interest.


1) Kyle Boller is a great one. It is unfortunate that Kyle didn't have the coaching, talent, and depth otherwise he might have been one of the college greats. I'm sure many will think this to be hyperbole, but he is a genuinely gifted athlete with a tough as nails attitude and the classiest disposition. He's the type of quarterback that only comes around every twenty to twenty five years. He has all the tools and potential to be an NFL great.

2) Passion- The fact that the Cal players are angry about the loss signifies the passion that has returned to the program. You can have all the talent in the world but if you don't play with passion and guts you won't win. Passion is one of the many key elements but it is critical for teams whose depth and talent isn't the greatest. 

3) Needs- Bottom line Cal needs more athletes. They have some great ones but they don't have super athletes rotting away on their bench. Cal is a blue-collar team. They get it done with determination and hard work. Cal isn't goin


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