USC Football: Beyond the Box Score

If Marqise Lee was an FBS team, the 138 yards-after-catch that he racked up in week one against Hawaii would have tied him for fifth in the nation. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

This will be the first of a series of statistical looks at the USC football program. This blog post is designed to take you beyond the box score of last week’s game and briefly look ahead to next week’s matchup with Syracuse.

Recap of 49-10 win against Hawaii

USC quarterback Matt Barkley picked up where he left off at the end of last season, throwing for 372 passing yards and four touchdowns on Saturday versus Hawaii.

It was Barkley’s sixth game with at least 300 yards passing and four touchdowns since the start of last season, two more than any active FBS player.

Barkley has his teammates to thank for this offensive output.

USC gained 224 of its 394 passing yards after the catch on Saturday, led by Marqise Lee, who gained 138 of his 197 yards after the catch.

The Trojans led all top 25 teams in yards gained after the catch in Week 1, amassing their second-most yards after the catch since the start of 2009 (gained 234 YAC against UCLA in final game of 2011).

Most Yards After the Catch in Week 1

AP Top 25 Teams

USC 224<<

West Virginia 176

Oklahoma State 176

Arkansas 174

Texas 138

>>138 by Marqise Lee

Lee continued to dominate in all facets of the game, becoming the second FBS player since 2000 with 10 receiving, 150 receiving yards, receiving touchdown, and a kickoff return in the same game.

Since Week 9 of 2011, Lee has averaged 212 rushing, receiving and return yards per game, most among active players who have played at least 4 games.

Looking Ahead to Game 2: at Syracuse

Syracuse played one of the most exciting games of Week 1, losing to Northwestern in a 42-41 thriller.

Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for an FBS-leading 470 pass yards in that game, including 17 completions of 10 yards or longer.

The Trojans have struggled stopping deep passes since Lane Kiffin took over as head coach. Only Tulsa has allowed more completions of 10-plus yards than the 293 that USC has allowed since the start of 2010.

Syracuse has averaged just 120.9 rush yards per game since the start of last season (97th in FBS), so the key to USC’s defense will be limiting Nassib and his big-play abilities.

When USC is on offense, Syracuse must slow Lee and Robert Woods after the catch. Additionally, Syracuse should limit its blitz against Barkley, who has 21 touchdowns and no interceptions since the start of last season when opponents send five or more pass rushers.

In Week 3 against the Orange last year, Barkley completed 9 of 10 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions while averaging 14.6 yards per attempt when Syracuse sent a blitz.

Barkley is the only player in FBS to have thrown at least four touchdowns in three straight games. He will look to continue this streak in the Meadowlands in his first nationally televised game of 2012.