LOS ANGELES -- A look at the positives and negatives from USC’s 38-17 victory over Arizona State on Saturday.
1. Marqise Lee
Lee once again proved himself to be arguably the most electrifying player in all of college football, hauling in 10 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown, while also picking up 66 more yards on the ground. Included in his extensive reel of highlight plays was a phenomenal 38-yard cutback run that set up a USC field goal in the fourth quarter.
With Silas Redd out, McNeal received his biggest workload of the season and responded in a big way, amassing 163 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Also scoring on a thrilling 22-yard screen pass, he looked like a player with something to prove against the Sun Devils. It will be interesting to see if his outing results in more touches from here on out.
3. USC front seven
After pulling somewhat of a disappearing act against Arizona and Oregon, the Trojans’ defensive front seven was back in prime form against the Sun Devils. Led by a rejuvenated defensive line, the Trojans limited the Sun Devils to just 71 yards on the ground while also collecting 11 tackles for loss, including seven sacks.
Just this past week, USC coach Lane Kiffin revealed he and Matt Barkley had come up with a goal of the senior signal caller throwing no interceptions in the next two games. But after Barkley threw three picks on Saturday, it looks like they’ll have to go back to the drawing board. The Trojans also turned the ball over two more times on fumbles, preventing what could have been a USC blowout.
2. Offensive energy and crispness
Lacking cohesiveness and showing virtually no emotion, the Trojans’ offense looked half asleep at times on Saturday, particularly early on. Barkley and Co. did eventually pull it together to finish strong, accumulating 447 yards of total offense along the way, but they can’t afford a slow start against UCLA or Notre Dame.
3. The disappearance of Robert Woods
There are only so many balls to go around in one offense, and Lee certainly deserves the lion’s share, but there has to be a bigger role for Robert Woods. A dynamic playmaker in his own right, the All-American receiver had just two receptions for minus-3 yards against Arizona State. And while the Trojans got away without a major contribution from him on Saturday, that won’t likely be the case throughout the rest of the schedule.