Morning Buzz: USC-Arizona Report Card


Caleb Williams didn’t need Jordan Addison or Mario Williams. He kept making throw-after-throw and it didn’t help that Arizona had an anemic pass rush. But let’s be clear. Williams again was why USC won the game.

Grade: A-


Travis Dye just produced another workmanlike 100-yard performance. For all the talk of rotating backs at the beginning of the season, Austin Jones hardly plays and Raleek Brown sure hasn’t lived up to the Week 1 hype. But he’s only a freshman.

Grade: B


Imagine how happy some of these guys were knowing they would get to play more. Kyle Ford, Michael Jackson and Terrell Bynum in particular benefitted from the lack of depth. Tahj Washington got to be the go-to receiver for a game.

Grade: B


They had it made going against a defense ranked No. 123rd nationally in sacks. But they didn’t exactly dominate either. It was an OK effort against an awful defense. Terrell Bynum finally caught a TD pass but it was called back by a holding penalty on Mason Murphy.

Grade: C+


The best thing that can be said is this unit was better than the linebackers or defensive backs. Stanley Ta’ufo’ou had three tackles and a tackle for loss for another solid game.

Grade: C-


Eric Gentry was missed, especially in pass coverage. One thing these linebackers are not great at is defending the pass. It’s a headache for Alex Grinch.

Grade: D+


There were busted coverages that looked embarrassing and it was basically a test of survival for a group that doesn’t like to face 43 passes. Bryson Shaw was a bright spot but Ceyair Wright had two pass interference penalties and the Trojans were fortunate not to give up even more points.

Grade: D-


Quite a forgetful night in Tucson for this group. Denis Lynch missed two field goals and Aadyn Sleep-Dalton had a 27-yard punt. Maybe USC needs a special teams coach.

Grade: D


Lincoln Riley can call a game. That’s apparent every week. He’s definitely got the offense humming. But can anyone say the defense is anything to write home about? Is it getting better? We knew this would happen before the season. They gave up 163 yards rushing and 380 passing. They are basically trying to survive and not get outscored.

Grade: C-


The Pac-12 didn’t even have the guts Monday to admit it screwed up at the end of the first half. Apparently it didn’t meet the criteria. Whatever. It’s easy to always blame officials and USC has gotten the benefit of some bad calls too. But how does it get fixed if George Kliavkoff doesn’t acknowledge it?

Grade: F

33 thoughts on “Morning Buzz: USC-Arizona Report Card

  1. Arizona got a bad call too on a roughing the passer call. Caleb was hardly touched on that play. Pac-12 officials are bad. Caleb Williams is turning out to be the best QB that SC has ever had. Who was better? Not Carson Palmer. His only really great year was in 2002 when he was a 5th year senior. Not Leinart, J.D. Booty, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, Cody Kessler, Sam Darnold, Kedon Slovis or Jackson Dart. Who was better? Rodney Pete was good but not that good, that early. This guy is really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Caleb is the most athletic QB I’ve seen at USC. That said, he frequently lacks touch on the long ball —- but that’s partly cuz he’s throwing on the run. I’d like to see what he could do if his pocket held up for ONE second longer.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, we got the benefit of ONE dubious call…..and got fucked over Big Time on another dozen calls and non calls. The surest sign something is wrong with Pac 12 officiating is the fact the holds on USC’s blitzing linebackers took place right under the noses of the refs…..but were ignored……


      1. I hate it when Yogi Roth is doing the USC spring game. What you get is a game long conversation between Yogi and the co-host(sometimes about things that don’t even concern USC football) while the game is going on.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. This is how you know ‘Ol Mule Shoe doesn’t give two shits about defense, he has a recruiter (Donte Williams) coaching the secondary




    4. I doubt ‘Ol Mule Shoe is dumb enough to enter B1G play in a couple of ywars with Grinch, Nua and Donte Williams as his core defensive coaching staff.

      ‘Ol Mule Shoe is probably hoping that the NFL comes calling before he has to enter B1G conference play with those three clowns


    5. My grade for your grading is an F.

      QB – A+ – His receivers dropped some balls or his stats would have been even better. Incredible day for Caleb.

      RB – B+ – They just didnt get used much, not their fault.

      Receivers – B+ – There were some drops here, mostly Brendan Rice (like that TD pass). But the emergence of real depth is excellent. Taj had a break-out and that will help them going forward. My guess is that Rice gets less playing time (Addison and SuperMario will always get reps in the big games) and the offense improves from using more variety of receivers with unique skill sets.

      Offensive Line – A- – They werent going up against a good defensive line, but the fact that they could mesh together 4 players who have not been playing at those positions – Dedich, Monheim, Murphy and bringing back Cortland for more playing time. This was a triumph for the o-line. (and that holding call was borderline BS as I have pointed out).

      TE ? – I have no clue, but not a high grade as they were unmemorable.

      Defensive Line – B- They got alot of penetration, but couldnt put the QB on the grass and lost containment. But keep in mind they were only rushing 3 or sometimes 4, so they held up their part of the game overall.

      Linebackers – D – If the linebackers are responsible for containment of the QB, they failed. I think some of the broken coverages were linebackers. The lack of depth is what earns some of that grade.

      Defensive backs C+ – The receivers and QB of Arizona had an outstanding game, some incredible catches that are nearly impossible to defend. Overall, very good coverage, but yes, some really badly busted plays here and there. Bryson is going to be a big impact going forward. One of Ceyair Wright’s PI calls was true BS, if I recall correctly. Ceyair is getting a little better, they did target him, because Mekhi played an excellent game. Calen Bullock has not make the strides he needs since last year. He is good, but not yet great. He could have had 2 picks in this game.

      What Scott doesnt understand is that Riley is using these 3 games to develop his younger players and get some depth and experiment. Maybe even push the starters to up their game or find themselves on the sidelines. Addison and Gentry are not going to be on the sidelines, but Brendan Rice better stop dropping balls or he doesnt get to play anymore. The offensive line might see more experimentation. Was this o-line a test where they might use the configuration from Saturday, but with Vorhees at left tackle against UCLA? And the defense was experimenting with alot of stuff.

      Dont expect the next two games to look pretty or USC to be dominant. They will win the games, but they will be testing a whole lot of stuff. I also think Riley is holding back some new wrinkles for UCLA and then hopefully Oregon ( like maybe a whole set of plays that utilize Raleek Brown’s speed).

      Liked by 3 people

    6. I disagree. The roughing call on Caleb was because the defender hit him in the head/neck area. It was a bang-bang play, and I don’t necessarily agree with the rule, but it fit the description of the rule. The roughing call against USC at Utah was very similar—except there was no hit to the head/neck area. That was a bad call.


  2. With an offense as explosive as we have, it’s a given that the Defense will be playing an awful lot of minutes. It’s why we need much more depth than a usual team. We could use another 15 studs on defense, for sure. I hope the recruiters make the point to the stars they want on defense that there’s going to be enough snaps for everyone who is good enough to play. It reminds me of the great Norm Chow / Pete Carroll team that smoked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl – we scored so fast that the defense was on the field a lot. That was the best college team I have ever seen

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Correct.
      USC held the ball 16 minutes in the first half and Zona earned about 180 first half yards. Second half, the script turned and zona earned 260 yards and made the game interesting.

      Looking back at the Utah game second half, the Trojan D was GASSED by the 4th Qtr (for several reasons). Coach Kyle knew he would be successful on the 2 pt conversion. He knows when a D has nothing left in the tank. He’s been in Utah for decades.

      Everyone on this site wants to see high numbers of athletic defenders recruited…immediately. (portal plus HS recruits). I am confident that Riles and Grinch will get it done.


  3. A Db at 6’1″ will always struggle against 6’5″ receivers, especially when the offense is designed to throw high to them. Wright had to interfere or they would have scored touchdowns. He did exactly what a good coach would tell him to do.
    Punter kicked one punt that went 27 yards. What would a special teams coach do? Hell, they had to wake him up to go in for that one kick.
    There were two blatant busted coverages.
    Linebacker: Hey, put Bryson at middle backer, especially for passing downs. He can pick up the RB coming out. Silly to have Lee keep trying to cover anyone with speed as he just doesn’t have any.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. USC special teams rank right in the middle of the pack of CFB–without a coach. I’m sure we could do worse than mediocre by hiring a coach who’d mess it all up.


  4. Opponents are racking up > 500 yards a game. How many more games before we get a real defensive coordinator? Riley gets enough money to hire decent guys.

    This defense is no better than the Clay Helton teams.

    One cannot expect the offense to score > 40 points EVERY game.

    No more excuses. Let’s see some results.


    1. If you expect a change soon, ain’t happening. Is it coaching or talent? Most people realize it is talent, Grinch is getting the most from the least already.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I completely disagree with you. We have a huge hole in the middle of the field and you expect Grinch to do what?

      But I am actually worried that our recruiting class on both lines has NO players who can step right in. The o-line will be fine next year as they develop the talent internally. But the d-line is going to be a shambles unless they get some players in. And I am NOT impressed with Donte’s recruits for DB. Teams like Texas and Oklahoma and Miami are gettig better talent that we are. Why?

      Is this a result of Bohn-head killing off any outside collective, so USC has a inept NIL effort?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes…but steveg has a legitimate point: Grinch is stuck this year with an average group of athletes …who can’t keep up with fast break Pac 12 offenses.

        Liked by 1 person


    Illinois has the best defense in college football and they have arguably a more difficult schedule. You think they have more talent?!? It is coaching? Moving players around and deriving schemes is called coaching. That is what Riley is known for on the the offensive side. Grinch has been poor with talent as well at OU.

    What other excuses you got?


    1. So…
      I looked at the Illini schedule. More creampuff than USC or UCLA.
      They have not played a single decent offense so far this year.

      UM is admittedly “elite”. Let’s see how Illini does vs UM prior to declaring them a great D.

      Fact is, 6 of the top 23 offenses (4 of the top 12) in CFB are in the Pac 12 this year.

      As has been pointed out by Gabby, there are fantastic QB’s in most of the Pac 12 schools right now.

      Is the Pac 12 deficient in Defense? Yes.
      Will it get much better? Likely no.
      Move on to the Big 10 and keep all of California’s top recruits at USC (and UCLA, I guess).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ..which will leave the Pac 12 right where it belongs….
        [Sorry. Ever since “S’ told me to cut out the politics I can’t resist]…


  6. They won. It was ugly but they won. I don’t quibble about the crust on a pizza. Wolf is entitled to his weird analysis. Charles Thompson was supposed to provide pass coverage at the linebacker spot while still stopping the run. Putting Shaw at linebacker exposes him to further injury. That’s why I said blitz more up the double gaps or zone blitz while rolling coverages.
    How do you give the quarterback an A- but credit him with being the difference between losing and winning WHILE MISSING HIS BEST LINEMAN AND TOP TWO RECEIVERS?!?!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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