USC began this game with more than a little concern as the defense conceded an easy touchdown drive to the Cardinal. Early struggles and an injury to quarterback JT Daniels left the offense wanting.
Hanging onto a close game, head coach Clay Helton gambled on fourth-and-two near the end of the first half, but Daniels fumbled and Cardinal quarterback KJ Costello led a last-minute scoring drive that gave Stanford a 14-0 lead at the half.
The two teams traded field goals in the third quarter, and JT Daniels’ first two interceptions in the game’s final minutes sealed USC’s first loss of the season. Here is a recap of Week 2 and what to expect from USC’s top prospects in Week 3.
JT Daniels – Quarterback
It was his first taste of road action. Coaches didn’t take the pressure off by focusing on the run. He suffered a hand injury. He wasn’t accurate. His offensive line had pass blocking breakdowns. His receivers weren’t making the tough grabs. Referees were letting contact go. There are many reasons Daniels had such a horrible outing against Stanford.
He went 16 for 34 for 215 yards and no touchdowns. He threw two interceptions that ultimately sealed USC fates. Daniels attempted 5 runs only to see negative yards.
JT’s next challenge? The Texas Longhorns. How well is another week of practice going to do to ignite the underperforming receiving corps or stabilize the inconsistent offensive line?
Stephan Carr – Running Back
Carr had the second most carries and yards of the USC rushing corps. He ran 10 times for 52 yards and zero touchdowns. His longest rush was only 14 yards. He also was targeted three times for 12 yards. The rest of the USC rushing corps couldn’t match this run as it was completely shut down from the start.
Carr will not have an easier time when he faces the Texas defensive line. Last year, they completely dominated the line, limiting the Trojans to 83 yards. Despite losing key members of the front seven, Texas has given up 3.95 yards per carry this year. They won’t make it easy for Carr.
Chuma Edoga – Offensive Line
Edoga made both good and bad plays. He played like Jekyll for a bit then played like Hyde. For every great block and play with perfect push, there was another which wreaked havoc on the offense. Edoga wasn’t the only one though. The entire offensive line didn’t show up for the game. But it wasn’t all bad. The Trojans were mostly positive in the run game, working Stanford’s defensive front in much the same way they found so much success against the Cardinal last year.
Unfortunately, Edoga and the rest of the offensive line will be going up against a mostly intact defense that took them to the wire last year. The only difference this year? Sam Darnold isn’t here to save them.
USC’s defense gave up 159 yards on the ground against Stanford, with a worrisome 5.48 yard per carry average. But just as last week’s 308 yard rushing total didn’t tell the whole story, the Trojans interior line could hardly be blamed for what running success Stanford achieved. Rector only attributed 3 tackles all game. His stats don’t show how effect he was to help plug up the middle of the field.
Like Smith, Rector is luckily facing a Texas offense that isn’t particularly good at running the ball.
Cameron Smith – Linebacker
Smith led the team in tackles and had a big tackle for loss, working around the line of scrimmage. He stopped up runners, helped break up a screen and was reasonably effective on the blitz. Like Porter Gustin, he didn’t finish off any sacks, but he impacted throws nonetheless.
Smith’s next challenge really isn’t that much of a threat on the ground. The Longhorns are not a particularly explosive offense on the ground. Last year they ranked 100th in 20-yard runs. This year they’ve only had two rushes of more than 20 yards. If the Trojan defense concedes long runs in Week 3, it will be more of a reflection of their deficiencies than the strengths of their opponent.
Iman Marshall – Cornerback
It was expected to be a big night for Marshall, whether in the positive or the negative, going up against Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He gave Whiteside one of his 4 catches of the game. Unfortunately, it was a 29 yard gain that saw Marshall slip. He also played role in Bryce Love‘s touchdown as he let Love get outside at the goal line.
Marshall walked off the field with his head held high. He was critical to USC’s rush defense, making sure tackles on the outside to keep Bryce Love in check for the most part.
Marvell Tell – Safety
Tell wasn’t that effective during the game. He had three tackles where two were solo tackles. He did put pressure on Stanford’s K.J. Costello during blitzes. He also hasn’t recorded a single interception in his first two games. But he looks to change that in his next matchup.
Remember Tell’s interception against Texas last year? The play Tell made is a great example of the danger he presents. Texas’ Sam Ehlinger was under pressure, but thought he had a sure safety valve in the tight end, Cade Brewer.
Instead, Tell sprinted all the way from the other side of the field to dive in front of the pass. In addition to the interception, Tell made four tackles against the Longhorns. Tell hopes to create more havoc for the Longhorns on Saturday.