USC has a worrisome start to the season
USC defeated UNLV, 43-21, at the Coliseum on Saturday but the performance was almost identical to last season’s worrisome home opener against Western Michigan.
The Trojans’ defense, which was expected to be improved and deeper than ever, allowed 308 yards rushing. That’s way too many yards for a team getting ready to face Stanford tailback Bryce Love next weekend.
Although the offense was inconsistent, freshman quarterback JT Daniels offered glimpses of his potential. He passed for 282 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
“It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to run out there and they’re cheering for you,” Daniels said. “It’s my first time in the Coliseum, it was really magical. “It feels really good to get my first touchdown, my first game and first win. It was a great day for the defense and the special teams.”
But too many times in the first half the offense fizzled in the red zone and kicker Chase McGrath kicked five field goals.
“I thought [sophomore kicker Chase McGrath] did a wonderful job,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “That’s 15 points. But we will look it as ‘That’s five opportunities to not get a touchdown.’”
Maybe the problem was USC tried to get too much too soon from Daniels. As usual, offensive coordinator Tee Martin’s playcalling raised questions.
For some reason, USC threw the ball 16 of its first 26 plays despite UNLV having a weak run-defense last season.
“[We need to improve on] making our plays. I was proud of the quarterbacks today for giving the receivers the opportunity to make plays,” Helton said. “Those guys are supermen and they’ll tell you, they expect to make all of them. We know we can do better bringing the ball down.”
A bright spot for the Trojans was freshman wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught seven passes for 98 yards and one touchdown.
The announced attendance 58.708 was the smallest for a home opener since 2001.