- Johnny Curren, WeAreSC, Reporter
LOS ANGELES -- A look at the positives and negatives from USC’s 35-14 loss to UCLA on Saturday.
1. USC rushing offense: While the USC offense, on the whole, was anything but prolific, the Trojans did manage to mount an effective ground attack for much of the night, thanks in large part to Javorius Allen. Going over the century mark for the fourth time in five games, he amassed 123 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries, and the offense accumulated 140 total rushing yards -- a statistic that would look a whole lot more impressive if it didn’t have to include the minus-44 yards that the Trojans gave up in sacks. And although the USC offensive line certainly didn’t have its best night, it actually performed solidly in the run-blocking department.
2. TE Xavier Grimble: Picking up where he left off after last week’s six-catch outing against Colorado, Grimble had another strong night, hauling in a 22-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. He’s started to come on after being dinged up early in the schedule, and he ranks No. 3 on the team on the season with 23 catches to go along with 248 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
3. CB Josh Shaw: The Trojans won’t be celebrating any moral victories after their loss to the Bruins, but the coverage provided by USC cornerback Josh Shaw on UCLA wide receiver Shaquelle Evans deserves mention. Evans, who caused a fair amount of controversy with some comments made about the Trojans leading up to the rivalry game, entered Saturday’s contest averaging 3.8 catches and a team-best 54.9 receiving yards per game. Matched up against Shaw, however, he managed to make just one reception for 13 yards.
1. USC defense: The Trojans came out fired up on defense, but they quickly wore down, allowing the Bruins to compile an impressive 396 total yards of offense. Struggling in pass coverage and with their tackling, USC had no answer for UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. The talented Bruins signal caller continually came up with pivotal rushing gains, racking up 80 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while also completing 18 of 27 pass attempts for 208 yards.
2. USC passing offense: The Trojans passing offense was out-of-synch right from the get-go. Victimized by a couple of early drops by his receivers, some conservative playcalling by USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton, and a less-than-stellar pass-blocking effort by the offensive line, Kessler never got going. Having been on somewhat of a tear as of late, he was sacked a total of six times on Saturday, and he completed a pedestrian 17 of 28 passes for 174 yards and 1 touchdown.
3. USC special teams: John Baxter’s special teams group had perhaps their worst performance of the season. Punter Kris Albarado -- who has starred at times in 2013 -- had his second consecutive sub-par outing. He averaged just 33.5 yards per punt against the Bruins, including a 15-yarder that helped set up UCLA’s first touchdown. Ishmael Adams, meanwhile, had a field day against the USC kick coverage unit, averaging 43.3 yards on three returns.
2dChantel Jennings and Ted Miller