Grading the Trojans

The Trojans got back in the Rose Bowl race with a big 44-24 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thanksgiving. See how SCPlaybook's Kevin Carden grades the Trojans impressive performance.

Quarterback: A+

USC's John David Booty had his best performance of the season. The senior quarterback had a hot hand all night completing passes to eight different players.

Booty completed 26 of 39 passes for 375 yards and matched a career-high with four touchdown passes.

All four of Booty's touchdown passes were completed to different receivers. Vidal Hazelton, Stanley Havili, Fred Davis and Joe McKnight all had touchdown receptions for the Trojans.

Running Backs: B-

The USC running game was good but not great on Thursday night against the Sun Devils. The Trojans rushed for 133 yards on 37 attempts, which is an unspectacular 3.7 yard average per carry but it got the job done.

Chauncey Washington was the Trojans leading rusher gaining 81 yards on 22 carries.

The Trojans running backs didn't have a single rushing touchdown but Joe McKnight and fullback Stanley Havili each had touchdown receptions.

Mc Knight tied for the team lead with 5 receptions.

Tight End: A

Fred Davis made his case for the Mackey Award, which is awarded annually to the nation's top tight end, with a big time effort in front of a national audience on Thursday.

Davis once again led the Trojans with 119 receiving yards and also tied for the team lead with 5 catches, including a 34-yard touchdown reception.

What separates Davis from other top tight ends is his ability to get separation from the defense and gain yards after the catch.

The senior tight end has been the Trojans most consistent receiver all year and currently leads USC in receptions with 49 for 753 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Wide Receivers: B+

The much maligned USC receivers deserve a lot of praise for coming up big in Thursday's big win over Arizona State.

Vidal Hazelton and Patrick Turner tied for the team lead with 5 catches. Turner led the USC receivers with 70 receiving yards and Hazelton added 36 yards and a touchdown.

Another good sign was John David Booty finally connected with freshman Ronald Johnson on a deep pass. Johnson's reception went for 33 yards.

Offensive Line: B-

The USC offensive line gave John David Booty plenty of time to pass and it resulted in Booty having a career day. The Trojans allowed just one sack in route to an impressive 44- 24 win over the Sun Devils.

The Trojans didn't have a great game on the ground, rushing for 133 yards, but did enough to keep the Arizona State defense honest.

Defensive Line: A

The Sun Devils have allowed the second-most sacks in the nation, so junior quarterback Rudy Carpenter is used to getting banged around.

Carpenter came into the game with an injured thumb and by the time the Trojans were done with him he was battered and bloody.

"They came to hit tonight. That is the one thing that they did do. They hit me and they hit me good. They're a good team," said the Sun Devils' quarterback.

The USC defense led by defensive end Lawrence Jackson hit Carpenter early and often.

The Trojans had six sacks on the night, four of which were credited to Lawrence Jackson. The senior defensive end had his best game of the year by continually getting pressure off the edge.

Jackson's 4 sacks were a career-high and most by a USC defender since Tim Ryan had four sacks against UCLA in 1989.

Fellow defensive linemen Sedrick Ellis and Everson Griffen each added a sack.

The Trojans also limited the Sun Devils to just 16 yards rushing on the night.

Linebackers: B

USC played without Keith Rivers at linebacker. The senior defensive captain was replaced by Kaluka Maiava, and all Maiava did was have a team-high 10 tackles.

Arizona State managed just 16 yards on the ground and a lot of that was due to the USC linebackers stuffing the run.

Thomas Williams had 6 tackles and Rey Maualuga added 3.

Secondary: C+

Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter was running from Lawrence Jackson most of the night but when he had time to throw he was on the mark, completing 21 of 30 pass attempts.

USC gave up 243 passing yards but as always didn't give up many big plays.

Safety Kevin Ellison had his usual solid game and sophomore Shareece Wright led the secondary with 4 tackles and a pass breakup.

Special Teams: D

Special Teams was once again a negative spot for the Trojans. Arizona State's Rudy Burgess answered the Trojans first score of the game with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Trojans also had a punt blocked late in the game.

Special Teams have been bad all year and that might have something to do with fact that USC doesn't have a special teams coach.

That is an issue that will hopefully be resolved this offseason.

On the positive side David Buehler was perfect in his three field goal attempts. Buehler connected on kicks of 20, 37 and 42 yards.

Coaching: B

Pete Carroll used the bye week to get the team healthy and it showed as the Trojans came out fired up and dominated the Sun Devils all night.

Steve Sarkisian finally opened up the offensive game plan and the Trojans responded by putting up 44 points.

The Sun Devils were expecting USC to pound them on the ground, so Sarkisian came out and used play action passes and roll outs to get the passing game going.

On defense the Trojans held the Sun Devils to just 16 yards rushing and kept Rudy Carpenter off balance with pressure and blitzes.

If the Trojans could clean up their special teams play and eliminate the unsportsmanlike penalties the coaches would have got an A for the game.

Overall: A-

The Trojans got a huge win over the Sun Devils and are now back in the Rose Bowl race.

The passing game looked the best it has all year and the defense was as dominant as ever. The Trojans looked like the best team in the nation on Thursday night and left USC fans wondering where that type of performance has been all year.

It will be interesting to see if the Trojans can keep up the dominating play next week against the UCLA Bruins.


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