November 1, 2010

Grades and Analysis: USC

The Oregon victory over USC on Saturday was an historic event. It was the game that cleared whatever doubt the national audience had about Chip Kelly’s 2010 group, and finally even convinced a few computers too. Ironically, even in their 21-point victory over a top-25 team on unfriendly turf, the Ducks left plenty of room for improvement.

Summary: B Oregon 53 " USC 32 What are you supposed to do when you are evaluating a team that just beat the spread by 14 points; a team that is ranked #1 in the country by everybody and is 8-0? Nothing different than if they were Washington State. You take a look at what a team does as compared to what they are capable of. In that light, the 8-0 Ducks left items on the table to keep their grades out of the stratosphere.

Offense: B+ (53 points, 29 first downs, 599 total offense, 4-4 red zone,(3 TD’s)) The Trojans could not do much to sidetrack the Oregon offense. Even on plays that seemed like they were developing poorly the Ducks still would squeeze out a few yards. It wasn’t really USC that would stop Duck drives necessarily. On several occasions it was the result of dropped balls on crucial third downs. The Trojan defense could not mount significant pressure on Thomas though seemed to try to place as many bodies on LaMichael James as they could muster.

Quarterback: A- (Thomas 19-32, 4 TD’s, INT, 8-42 rushing) Plenty to be happy about with Darron Thomas after this performance. While the passing numbers weren’t gaudy looking at the percentages, the four touchdowns stand out. Thomas read handoff most of the time in the first half on the option, as is the pattern in most games this year. When he kept later, the Trojans were not in position. Ball faking by Thomas was good this game as was his progression-reading. The one interception to USC DT Jurrell Casey was more on the blockers for not keeping the DL hands down in the lane than on Thomas. It was unfortunate Casey of all Trojans got the takeaway given what karma owed him after his nonsensical pregame remarks.

Offensive line: A- (6.2 ypc, 1 sack) A very good game by the big uglies once again. They have shown great precision at the point of attack allowing the running backs to show off against the second level more often than not. Thomas was not knocked around much this game and certainly the lanes at the line of scrimmage were ample for James. Wood gave plenty of work at guard to sophomore Nick Codywho held up impressively. Well done in both offensive phases for Steve Greatwood’s guys.

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