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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Grading the USC game

We look back at what units performed well against USC, and what position underperformed.


Quarterback: Luke Falk came in cold against a tough defense in bad weather and played pretty well. He had one pass intercepted and a couple more that likely could have been but for the most part he made safe throws, showed a good command of the offense and made some plays with his athleticism. Grade: B-

Running backs: Apart from a 26-yard run by Theron West the WSU running backs weren't able to get much going on the ground. However, West proved to be one of Falk's most reliable receivers and nearly topped the 100-yard mark. Grade: C

Wide receivers: Drops, on drops on drops. Without the sure-handed River Cracraft around to provide a reliable outlet for Falk it was important that Vince Mayle have a big day. Instead, he struggled, dropping more passes than he likely had all season entering the game, including bobbling one out of the end zone with nobody around. He wasn't the only receiver who didn't do much to help his new quarterback, though, and only Tyler Baker had a noteworthy game. Grade: F

Offensive line:  The offensive line gave up three sacks, including the one that knocked out Connor Halliday, and it would have been more if not for Falk's impressive ability to escape pressure. USC has  a tough defensive front and Leonard Williams is as good a player as the Cougars will face but the line needs to find a way to keep its quarterbacks clean. Grade: C-

Defensive line: Until the fourth quarter the defensive line did a great job containing star USC running back Javorius Allen, but needed to put more pressure on quarterback Cody Kessler. Allen started to run wild in the fourth quarter but by then the game was long out of reach. Grade: C+

Linebackers: Jeremiah Allison continues to play well and Peyton Pelluer is growing into his role as the starting middle linebacker. The linebackers held up OK against the run. All three sacks of Kessler came from WSU linebackers and this was probably WSU's best defensive unit. Grade: B-

Secondary: The backups to the backups at WSU just aren't good enough to do much against players like Nelson Agholor and Juju Smith and it's a crummy situation that sees multiple true freshmen defensive backs playing extensively. Still, Daquawn Brown let Agholor bust past him on one deep touchdown (he may have been coming up to blitz) and Smith was just a little too open over the middle to blame everything on youth. Grade: D

Special teams: Another week, another special teams touchdown. At this point the odds makers in Vegas should start adding an extra seven points to the spread in favor of WSU's opponents. Grade: D

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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