Monday, December 31, 2012
Sun Bowl grades: Georgia Tech 21, USC 7
By Pedro Moura
When Georgia Tech has a more efficient day through the air, you know things are bad. Max Wittek's future looked very promising after his starting debut against Notre Dame. Now, not so much. Wittek, starting for the injured Matt Barkley for the second straight game, didn't have any good stretches on Monday. And backup Cody Kessler never got a shot to show what he could do.
Lane Kiffin called runs a fair amount early, but with Curtis McNeal less than 100 percent healthy, Silas Redd wasn't effective enough to keep the Trojans' offense moving until things got dire in the fourth quarter. And both running backs struggled to hold onto the ball, even though the expected rain never came in.
IN THE TRENCHES
USC's tackles -- Aundrey Walker and Kevin Graf -- played as poorly as ever, and better play from Khaled Holmes and John Martinez wasn't enough to salvage the offensive line's day. The Trojan D-linemen celebrated whenever they made a play behind the line of scrimmage, but that wasn't very often.
Of the list of things to blame for USC's thoroughly embarrassing performance on national television, Monte Kiffin's defense is not near the top of the list. It was by no means great or even good, but it wasn't that bad. Georgia Tech put up 68 on North Carolina. It could've been a lot worse. Better tackling form would've been a good sign for the future, though.
Kyle Negrete had a couple of good early punts, but his teammates' third-quarter punt coverage overrun that put Georgia Tech in the red zone and later led to a touchdown doomed USC. Considering how much time the Trojans spend on special teams in practice, the unit's 2012 performance was a massive disappointment. The difference-making days of 2011 have seemed so distant in recent weeks.
Uninspired play is putting it mildly. Georgia Tech played with so much more urgency than the Trojans, and that has to go on Lane Kiffin. USC athletic director Pat Haden has consistently supported his head coach, but how many Trojans fans would be upset if he decided to end the Kiffin experiment now?