3 up, 3 down: USC 35, Boston College 7
LOS ANGELES -- A look at the positives and negatives from the Trojans’ bounce-back victory at home over Boston College on Saturday.
1. Cody Kessler
This was the Cody Kessler that everyone remembered from back in the spring. Named as the Trojans’ full-time starting quarterback this past Monday after a dismal performance by the USC passing offense against Washington State, the 6-foot-1 redshirt sophomore completed 15 of 17 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Directing an offensive attack that appeared to have been opened up to a certain degree by Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin, he connected on 14 consecutive pass attempts at one point, providing hope that the Trojans could be headed in the right direction.
2. USC tailbacks
While the USC passing game took a while to get going this season, the rushing attack has been effective from the get-go thanks in large part to some stellar running by the Trojans’ tailback corps. Leading the way on Saturday, once again, was Tre Madden, who rushed for 102 yards -- his third straight game over the century mark -- and one touchdown, while also adding three receptions for 32 yards and another score. Freshman Justin Davis was just as stellar, if not more so, amassing 96 yards and one touchdown on just 10 carries. Javorius Allen and Ty Isaac impressed as well.
3. USC team defense
Led by another phenomenal effort by the front seven, the Trojans’ defense limited standout Boston College tailback Andre Williams -- who had rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the Eagles’ previous two games -- to just 38 yards on 17 carries. The USC defense also harassed Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig all day, holding him to 11-of-24 passing for 83 yards, and Boston College wasn’t able to put any points on the board until the Trojans reserves came in late.
While the Trojans showed improvement in a number of areas -- most notably the passing attack -- they took a step back in the penalty department. Having committed a total of 12 penalties on the season heading into the game, USC was flagged 10 times on Saturday for 100 yards -- compared to one penalty for 5 yards for the Eagles.
2. Pass blocking
The Trojans offensive line continued to open up huge lanes for the USC running backs just as they have all season, but their pass protection was still largely inconsistent, with the group missing blocks and blowing assignments on occasion. They wound up allowing only two sacks, but Boston College pressured Kessler off and on throughout the day. If not for a few nifty scrambling efforts by the USC signal caller, that number would have been greater.
3. Home attendance in the Coliseum
Coming off a stunning upset loss a week earlier, just 62,006 showed up for the game -- the lowest attendance at the Coliseum since Oct. 19, 2002, when 52,961 showed up for a clash with Washington. Fortunately, those that were on hand on Saturday showed enthusiasm right from the outset, cheering loudly after Kiffin elected to open the game with a deep toss to Marqise Lee -- even after it fell incomplete.