We're passionate about the NFL Draft
By Dwayne Wilton
For the first time in weeks, there were no games that affected the final four playoff spots, however, the USC – UCLA game had a bearing on the Pac-12 standings. The USC Trojans came into the game with two conference losses and were ranked #19 in the country. The UCLA Bruins also had two losses, but were ranked #9 in the country. The winner would have a chance, along with Arizona State to make it into the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The fireworks started early. After the Trojans downed a pooch punt at the UCLA 7 yard line, junior linebacker Anthony Sarao picked off a Brett Hundley pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown to put USC on top 7-0. UCLA countered quickly though. After being forced to punt, the Bruins recovered a fumbled punt at the USC 8 yard line and 3 plays later Hundley found junior receiver Devin Lucien at the back of the end zone to tie the game at 7 apiece. The Bruins forced a Trojan punt and then struck quickly again. Hundley completed a 57 yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Thomas Duarte to give his team a 14-7 lead.
Early in the 2nd quarter, USC tied the game on a 2 yard pass from junior QB Cody Kessler to sophomore running back Justin Davis. On UCLA’s next possession they began what would end up being a total domination of the game. They kicked a 32 yard field goal to take a 17-14 lead, then senior linebacker Eric Kendricks picked off Kessler to set up a 13 yard pass from Hundley to freshman receiver Eldridge Massington to take a 24-14 lead into the half.
The Bruins took the 2nd half kickoff and marched downfield, scoring on a 10 yard run by redshirt sophomore running back Paul Perkins to increase their lead to 31-14. After forcing a USC three and out, Hundley scored from 15 yards out and the lead was 38-14. Midway through the 4th quarter, the Trojans scored on a 3 yard run by junior running back Buck Allen. The Trojans failed on their 2 point conversion, but had cut the lead to 38-20 which ended up being the final score.
The Bruins thoroughly dominated the Trojans in this game. It’s hard to figure this team out. You never know which team will show up. Will the dominating team show up, or will it be the team that lost two in a row to Utah and Oregon? The win gives them a tie with Arizona State for 1st place in the PAC-12 south standings, however, the Bruins beat the Sun Devils earlier in the year, so if the two teams tie, the Bruins will get a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
With the loss, USC falls completely out of the top 25. They have a 7-4 record and have a remaining game with Notre Dame.
Here are my notes on the draft eligible players that played in the game. I will start with the winning team.
Brett Hundley, QB, Jr (6-3, 227): Experienced three year starter. Good size. Athletic, dual threat QB. Dangerous when he gets outside of the pocket and is able to use his creativity. Very accurate. Does a very good job on ball fakes. Does a very good job running the option and on designed QB run plays. Completed 22 of 31 for 326 yards with 3 TD and 1 INT. Ran for a 15 yard TD and had a fumble in the red zone.
Paul Perkins, RB, RS Soph (5-11, 200): Versatile running back that can do it all. Workhorse that can handle a full workload. Patient runner that is able to find small creases. Good vision. Ability to break tackles. Good pass protector. Led the team with 93 yards rushing on 24 carries and had a touchdown.
Jordan Payton, WR, Jr (6-1, 215): Big and physical. Team’s go to receiver, leading them with 61 receptions. Good hands. Had 3 catches for 31 yards.
Devin Lucien, WR, RS Soph (6-1, 200): Good size. Has the ability to slip tackles. Had 2 catches for 20 yards and 1 TD.
Devin Fuller, WR, Jr (6-1, 198): Gets good yardage after the catch. Good on screen passes where he is able to use his elusiveness. Had 5 catches for 63 yards and had a 31 yard catch.
Jake Brendel, C, Jr (6-4, 290): Lacks great size, but has good mobility. Able to pull and trap defenders. Has the ability to get to the second level and block linebackers. Good short setup in pass protection.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, Sr (6-3, 270): Versatile linemen that can line up inside or outside. Has the strength to stand up blockers. Strong, quick and active. Disruptive player that sheds blocks quickly. Dominated the USC offensive line. Had 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks.
Eric Kendricks, ILB, Sr (6-0, 230): Three down linebacker that can contribute in all phases of the game. Leads the team and is 2nd in the Pac-12 in tackles. Does a good job dropping into pass coverage. Good concentration and instincts. Always around the ball. Had 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and an interception.
Ishmael Adams, S, Jr (5-8, 190): Leads the team in interceptions. Good ball skills. Dynamic with the ball in his hands. Had a 95 yard pick six earlier in the year. Able to return kicks and punts. Had 1 pass break up.
Cody Kessler, QB, Jr (6-1, 210): Scrappy QB that lacks ideal size. Good accuracy. Makes good decisions and takes care of the ball. Early in his career, he looked to dump it off, but lately is attacking downfield more. Has good pocket presence and he moves around well in the pocket. Good arm. Smart QB that knows how to look off a safety with his eyes. Does a good job when forced into scrambling. Able to pooch punt. Due to his size, he can be disrupted with pressure up the middle. Was running for his life all game. Completed 22 of 34 for 214 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.
Buck Allen, RB, Jr (6-1, 220): Big runner that does a great job between the tackles. Came into the game leading the Pac-12 in rushing, but fell to 3rd after this game. Runs with good pad level and drags tacklers. Good cutback ability. Good hands. Led his team in rushing with 60 yards on 14 carries and had a rushing TD. Also led the team with 7 catches for 42 yards.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Jr (6-1, 190): Leads the team with 85 catches, but was held in check by the Bruins. Good size. Snatches the ball from the air and doesn’t allow it to get into his body. Bails out his QB on scramble drills. Able to return punts. Was held to 3 catches for 24 yards and fumbled a punt.
Max Tuerk, C, Jr (6-6, 285): Veteran leader of the offensive line. Gets the team fired up.
Leonard Williams, DE, Jr (6-5, 300): One of the top prospects for the 2015 draft if he declares and could even be the top overall pick. Very big for a defensive end, but could project to a 3-4 defensive end. Leads the team in sacks. Has a very good bull rush.
Hayes Pullard, ILB, Jr (6-1, 235): Doesn’t have great size, but runs extremely well. Leads his team with 84 tackles for the year and is in the top 10 of the Pac-12. Physical and is the emotional leader of the defense. Had 9 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.
Anthony Sarao, OLB, Jr (6-0, 220): Has ability to play inside or outside. Runs well. Reads plays quickly and breaks well on the ball. Had 3 tackles, 1 pass breakup and a pick six.
Josh Shaw, CB, Sr (6-1, 200): Has played both corner and safety. Was suspended until this game for a lie he told about his ankle injury. Played sparingly, but played well and had 1 tackle.
Gerald Bowman, S, Sr (6-0, 205): Plays well in the box. Blitzes well. Had 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 sack. Was called for a face mask penalty.
Come back next Wednesday as I discuss another of the big games from this weekend. If you like what you read, like us on Facebook and tell your friends. See you next Wednesday!