- Johnny Curren, WeAreSC, Reporter
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LOS ANGELES – A look at the positives and negatives from USC’s 10-7 loss at home to Washington State on Saturday.
1. Team defense
Even after one of the most disappointing losses in the program's recent history, the Trojans’ defense deserves some major kudos for an inspiring effort. Led by another stellar performance up front, USC limited a Washington State offensive attack that amassed 464 total yards against Auburn in Week 1, to 222 yards on Saturday, including just seven rushing yards. The defense also forced three turnovers and racked up four sacks.
2. Tre Madden
Madden did just about everything that he could to try and carry the Trojans into the win column with 151 yards on 32 carries. The former Mission Viejo (Calif.) standout also paced the USC offense against Hawaii a week earlier with 109 yards on the ground, making him the first Trojans tailback to rush for 100 yards or more in back-to-back games to open a season since Marcus Allen did it in 1981.
3. Dion Bailey
Lining up at as a slot defender in the nickel package that DC Clancy Pendergast employed for much of the game, Bailey was all over the place. He led the Trojans with 10 tackles and collected his second interception of the young season. He also made a team-best seven tackles against Hawaii. Bailey has gotten off to an extremely strong start in his first season as a member of the secondary after starring at linebacker in both 2011 and 2012.
1. Passing offense
No other factor contributed to the Trojans’ stunning defeat more than the paltry level of production put on display in the passing game. Directing the offense in an ultra-conservative game plan that appeared to restrain it from stretching the field vertically, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek combined to connect on 11 of 21 passes for 54 yards with two interceptions, with the longest completion going for just eight yards. It was USC's worst total for passing yards since a loss to Florida State in 1998, when the offense compiled just 23 yards through the air.
2. Third-down efficiency
With the passing game in complete disarray, the Trojans were just 3-of-13 on third-down conversions. USC has now successfully converted on third down just 22 percent (6-of-27) of the time on the season, down from last season's rate of 34.2 percent.
3. Special teams
It was a night to forget for John Baxter’s field goal unit. First, Washington State’s Kalaf Pole broke through the line to block Andre Heidari’s 32-yard attempt in the third quarter. Then, on the Trojans’ very next series, Heidari’s 43-yard try sailed left. In contrast, Cougars’ placekicker Andrew Furney connected on his 41-yard attempt late in the fourth quarter, and it wound up being the difference in the game