Grading the Trojans

SCPlayBook's Kevin Carden grades the Trojans after USC experienced its second loss of the season.

Grading the Trojans

Quarterback: C

Mark Sanchez played well for most of the day. The young quarterback went into a hostile environment and was able to keep his cool, but his two second half interceptions proved to be too much for the Trojans to overcome.

Sanchez was 26 for 41 for 277 yards with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions.

On the positive side Sanchez has developed a good chemistry with receivers Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton. Whether Sanchez or Booty is the starter for the rest of the season, Sanchez has gained some valuable game experience and has to be the frontrunner to be next year's starter.

Running Backs: C-

The Trojans running game never got on track Saturday. As a team the Trojans rushed for only 101 yards and didn't have a single back average over four yards a carry.

Chauncey Washington led the Trojans with 45 yards on 11 carries. Freshman Joe McKnight had a 65-yard touchdown erased because of a holding penalty. On the day McKnight ended with just 39 rushing yards.

Stafon Johnson carried the ball just 3 times for 10 yards.

Fullback: D

The usually dependable Stanley Havili had a rough game Saturday. Havili fumbled on the Trojans second possession of the second half. The Ducks quickly converted the turnover into 7 points and never looked back.

Havili had just 20 all-purpose yards for the Trojans.

Wide Receivers: B

The USC wide receivers didn't do much in the first half, combining for just 4 catches. But they came alive in the second half and had their best performance of the season.

Patrick Turner in particular had a big game for the Trojans. The junior receiver looked dominant at times for USC. On the opening drive of the second half, Mark Sanchez hooked up with Patrick Turner three times for 52 yards including a 9-yard TD strike. On the day Turner had 7 receptions for 107 yards and a TD and for the first time this season looked like a No.1 receiver. Vidal Hazelton had a very productive game for the second week in a row. Hazelton had a team-high 8 catches for 88 yards.

Tight End: C

Tight end Fred Davis has been the Trojans best offensive player in 2007 and is most likely the best tight end in college football. But against Oregon, Davis didn't get many chances to show off his various skills.

The big tight end only had 1 reception for 11 yards.

Offensive Line: D

The coaches talked all week about the boost USC would receive from finally having a healthy offensive line. But on Saturday the Trojans weren't able to establish a consistent running game and committed two penalties that had a negative impact on the outcome of the game.

Chilo Rachal had a costly personal foul penalty on the Trojans first drive and a holding penalty on Drew Radovich erased Joe McKnight's 65-yard touchdown run.

Overall it was a disappointing outing for the big guys up front.

Defensive Line: C+

The defensive line had a very active day against the Ducks. Sedrick Ellis had a team-high 12 tackles and Lawrence Jackson added 11 tackles. But like many games this year the Trojans weren't able to get consistent pressure on quarterback Dennis Dixon.

Dixon had plenty of time in the pocket completing 16 of 25 pass attempts for 157 yards. Dixon also had plenty of success running the ball against the Trojans gaining 76 yards on 17 carries.

The Trojans came into Saturday's match up with the nation's fourth best rushing defense allowing just 64.2 yards a game. But the Ducks managed to rush for 182 yards against USC.

Oregon junior running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 103 yards and became the first player to gain 100 yards rushing against USC this season.

Linebackers: B-

Anytime you play against a dual-threat quarterback like Dennis Dixon, the linebackers are going to be tested all game long.

Against the Ducks the USC linebackers had a solid day but didn't do anything spectacular.

Rey Mauluga had a team-high 12 tackles, Keith Rivers added 11 and Brian Cushing had 8.

On the negative side Rey Maualuga often looked lost in coverage. Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart combined to rush for 179 yards against the Trojans.

Secondary: B-

The secondary held Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon to just 157 passing yards with no touchdowns. But the cornerback's continued to give receivers way too much cushion and didn't look good trying to make tackles in the open field.

Special Teams: A

The Trojans special teams looked the best they have all season on Saturday. USC came up with two very big turnovers on special teams.

On the opening kickoff of the game USC reserve wide receiver Brad Walker recovered an Andre Crenshaw fumble giving the Trojans possession of the ball at the Oregon 21-yard line. The Trojans came up with another big play on special teams early in the second quarter when Rey Maualuga fell on a live ball after Greg Woidneck's punt hit off of Oregon's Garren Strong. The Trojans were able to convert the turnover into three points when David Buehler connected on a 30-yard field goal. The USC coaches have really paid more attention to special teams in practice since the loss to Stanford and it showed against the Ducks. Coaching: D

The decision to go for it on 4th and 1 on the first possession of the game will rightfully be criticized by fans and media alike. The play call on fourth down was also questionable. On a fourth and short play, the defense is focused on getting penetration so having McKnight run parallel to the line of scrimmage didn't seem like the ideal call at that time.

All week the coaches talked about the boost they would receive from the return of Sam Baker and Chilo Rachal but the Trojans never committed to establishing the running game early on Saturday.

The conservative play calling and lack of a deep passing game also continues to be an issue. Top Stories