The USC Trojans are getting used to games like this … which is not a good thing. In all candor, we did think the larger 2022 season was going to be like this: offense great, defense bad. However, it did come as a surprise that the Trojans made California Golden Bear quarterback Jack Plummer look like Aaron Rodgers for much of the game, especially the fourth quarter.
It did come as a shock that Cal’s bad offensive line and generally unreliable offense were able to move the ball so easily against the Trojans.
USC’s defense was actually not terrible in the first half of the season. No, it wasn’t especially good (except for the Oregon State and Washington State games), but it wasn’t horrible.
This? This is horrible.
Let’s go to the grades. We will not take it easy on this defense. No one should.
We don’t usually start with the secondary, but we have to in this game.
Charmin-soft coverage, not taking away routes, not being especially physical with typically unimposing Cal receivers, and the list goes on: USC flunked in the secondary. Giving up over 400 passing yards to a Cal offense which struggled to score against Colorado is beyond belief.
When Utah lit up USC, the Utes played great, and they have the Pac-12 championship to justify a certain degree of respect.
Arizona has elite receivers. Getting torched by those players was not really acceptable, but the opponent did play well.
Getting lit up by Cal, however? Completely atrocious, no excuses, no qualifiers or caveats.
This is only because of the injuries to Eric Gentry and Ralen Goforth.
USC has not developed backups at this position group. It’s a huge concern for 2023 and the coming offseason. We need to see at least some improvement versus Colorado, leading into UCLA.
A few sacks helped, but this group did not really dominate Cal’s bad offensive line. Cal converted far too many third-and-longs.
Nick Figueroa blocking an extra point keeps this from being an F. We will have more to say about this issue as the week goes on.
Caleb Williams carried this team. He has done it before. He will need to do so again.
They functioned well within the offense, but an eight-yard loss by Raleek Brown and a few other stumbles prevents this unit from getting an “A.”
Michael Jackson III and Tahj Washington were tremendous. However, a few dropped passes from other receivers still exist, and need to be weeded out of this group’s track record each week. This unit can’t drop a single pass against UCLA and Notre Dame.
Lincoln Riley is still on top of his game. USC does occasionally go away from the run when it could press its advantage there, but another 41-point game is hard to knock.
Alex Grinch is undoing the great work he did in the first six weeks of the season. He needs to step it up and find some solutions.
As horrible as the defense was against Cal, let’s remember that USC is 8-1.
That’s very good.