Marqise Lee’s drops threw USC quarterbacks for a loop
Sitting in Los Angeles, thinking about Hawaii...
Or, rather, about Hawaii’s football game against USC.
A couple of questions, thoughts, observations:
Can Marqise Lee catch a pass with a loop in it? He was 0-for-2 on those Thursday night in USC’s opener, a lackluster 30-13 win over the Rainbow Warriors.
The second drop cost USC a sure touchdown. Quarterback Max Wittek showed the strength of his arm as he delivered a bomb right on the money despite a heavy rush. In fact, his pass hit Lee right in the numbers -- right after it slipped through both his hands.
Lee’s first drop was inside the 10-yard line on a nicely thrown fourth-and-four pass by Cody Kessler on USC’s first possession of the game. A catch would have given the Trojans a first-and-goal and probable ...
Wait, can’t say that. It just brings up another question, as in:
What’s with USC and first-and-goal situations?
The Trojans are bad at them. Have been since ... how long has it been that Lane Kiffin has been calling plays?
USC had three such situations against Hawaii -- the first two resulted in field goals by Andre Heidari. It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that the Trojans finally scored a touchdown.
The first time, from the one-yard line, two runs netting a loss of two yards bookended an incomplete pass from Kessler toward Lee.
The second time, from the three-yard line, two runs netting a loss of two yards bookended an incomplete pass from Max Wittek toward Randall Telfer, who was open in the corner of the end zone.
Good teams playing against the likes of Hawaii score touchdowns in those situations. Feel free to finish the rest of that thought on your own.
Still sitting in Los Angeles, thinking about Hawaii ... and wondering whether Hawaii’s Charles Clay has an actual footprint on his chest.
Tre Madden, a converted linebacker, ran for 109 yards in 18 carries, and freshman Justin Davis was better as the game wore on, finishing with 74 yards and a touchdown in 14 carries.
But the most impressive USC run of the night was turned in by third-stringer Javorius Allen, who knocked Clay, a defensive back, four yards south onto his back, then, for good measure, ran over him on a nine-yard gain.
Allen is 6-foot-1, 215 pounds -- bigger than Davis and about the same size as the hard-charging Madden -- but he looks a step faster than Madden, who has come back from knee surgery.
During spring and summer training camps, Allen was reportedly USC’s most consistent back. Based on that run alone it would be nice to see more of him.
Now pacing in Los Angeles, wondering -- and worrying and dreading -- what next week is going to be like listening to disingenuous Kiffin babblings about USC’s quarterback situation...
Here’s the situation, whether the coach wants to say it or not: Kessler is the better athlete; Wittek has the stronger arm. Wittek has a little more experience; Kessler might have a little better upside as a college quarterback trying to operate behind a less-than-stellar line.
Neither is bad; neither is great. Who starts doesn’t really matter because it’s clear that Kiffin doesn’t change the game plan, such as it is, based on who the quarterback is.
You want some intrigue? Start pondering ways to snap the ball directly to Nelson Agholor. Or Lee -- provided, of course, that the snap doesn’t have a loop in it.
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