#5 Southern California Trojans v California Bears
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 3 p.m. ET
California Memorial Stadium – Berkeley, CA
Southern Cal (30), Cal (20)
Sam Darnold, QB #14 (RS Soph) – Darnold did a nice job of reading the defensive coverage to take the best available option. He had no issues with being patient in the pocket, quickly reading the defensive ques, and delivering the passes accurately. His used his above average mobility within the pocket to avoid rushers and extend passing plays. However, Darnold continued his constant issue of taking unnecessary risks with his passes. Darnold entered this season with 6 interceptions for the season and he took multiple more risks this game; throwing one interception. Usually the ill-advised passes were during scrambles so either he is not seeing the trailing defender baiting him to make the pass or he is just comfortable taking excessive risks. He has the arm strength to zip passes into tight coverage, which most likely plays a part in his confidence to throw dangerous passes. When the USC offense was stalling, they helped him get into the groove by calling play action roll outs and quick easy passes. A key factor that makes Darnold so great is that he is at his best during third down passing situations.
Stock: Same because it was already high
Deontay Burnett, WR # 80 (Jr) – He snagged several passes with all hands and immediately got upfield after the catch. He is not an elite 1 on 1 juker in the open field but he does have the elusiveness to constantly gain YACs. His sense of urgency and natural feel moving with the QB during scrambles reminds me of Antonio Brown. This part of his game puts a lot of extra stress on the defensive backfield.
Rasheem Green, DL #94 (Jr) – He has very long arms and is powerful within his rush. He was constantly violent during his pursuit of the QB or ball carrier. For example, his powerful club to the Offensive lineman’s shoulder knocked him aside for easy access to the QB. His violence when disengaging with blockers allowed him to contribute several tackles for no gain.
Cameron Smith, LB # 35 (Jr) – He was a solid tackler in the open field. During several bubble passes, Cameron got to the sideline under control and completed a one on one tackle for no gain. He looked natural when taking on blockers before using great timing to disengage and make the tackle on the RB running past him. I sensed some hesitancy from Cameron Smith when deciding to attack a lane or not. I also did not like to see a TE effectively blocking him out of the hole during a run on 4th and 1.
Uchenna Nwosu, LB # 42 (Sr) – He is an explosive play maker on the edges. He has the range, burst, and nifty moves to be a constant pass rushing threat. He has the natural athleticism to execute counter moves if his first move doesn’t work. Another key part of his game is that he routinely looks to bat down passes at the line. If he sees the QB looking to make a quick throw, then he will stop and wait to jump. He also caught a fumble before it even hit the ground when a teammate rusher knocked the ball out of the QB’s hand.
Iman Marshall, DB #8 (Jr) – He lost his balance while driving on a couple passes that could have been interceptions but were instead explosive completions. In large part, his coverage was very tight. He jumped on dig routes, out routes, and he followed a shallow route across the field to make the tackle to cause a turnover on downs.
Ronald Jones, RB #25 (Jr) – Injured
Porter Gustin, LB #45 (Jr) – Injured
Ross Bower, QB #3 (RS Soph) – He was fearless attacking the defensive coverage vertically. Before the 4th quarter, Bower showed patience in the pocket and good accuracy to passes on all three levels. However, as the game clock dwindled down, he began to throw deep passes into double coverage. He threw 2 interceptions in the 4th quarter which sealed his team’s loss.
James Looney, DE # 9 (R Sr) – He showed an average ability to win at the point of attack with strength. There were a few run plays where he gained leverage on the blocker and used his strength to gain penetration and tackle RBs in the backfield. However, there were a few plays where he was blocked too easily such as when he was cut blocked and ended up on his back.
Stock: Same (until I watch more film on him)
Alex Funches, WR #36 LB (Jr) – He can be very explosive off the snap when he decides to rush the edge with speed. During a sack, his explosion turned into momentum through his bull rush. He also showed great blend to get flat down the LOS once he sped around the edge.
Cameron Goode, LB #19 (R Fr) – He has an extremely long stride that he used to cover a wide area. His long stride can get him into the QB’s face within a few strides. He showed this same range when he dropped into coverage and almost intercepted a pass during a QB scramble. I sensed that he needs more upper body strength because several ball carriers broke his arm tackles.
Devante Downs, LB #1 (Sr) – I was impressed with his powerful thump when tackling RBs in the hole to stop their momentum forward. I did not see the sideline to sideline speed necessary for him to be an ever down LB.
Kanawai Noa, WR #9 (RS Soph) – I appreciated his tenacity after the catch. He would burst and juke for as long as possible until defenders made sure to bring him down. He caught a few deep passes, one of which was on top of the DB’s head who was trailing his seam route. I also like the quickness and urgency he got his head around during routes that required him to stop. He’ll be a WR I continue to watch moving forward.
Best Players on the Field
Sam Darnold, QB #14 (RS Soph)
Deontay Burnett, WR # 80 (Jr)