Arizona Wildcats football: Report card for USC game

2013-10-11T02:37:00Z 2013-11-01T19:09:51Z Arizona Wildcats football: Report card for USC gameDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 11, 2013 2:37 am  • 

The UA’s report card for its 38-31 road loss at USC.

Offense

Quarterbacks:

B-: Was it always pretty for B.J. Denker on Thursday night? No. The senior missed some throws he’d surely like to have back and at times lacked poise when faced with a rush from the Trojans front. But it’s hard to argue with the end results. The senior finished 28 for 44 for 363 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers. He completed passes of 57, 45 and 32 yards. Denker’s longest completion of the season before Thursday’s game was a 31-yarder to Garic Wharton against NAU. Statistics don’t tell the whole story, but Denker turned in his best performance of the season and made plays late to give the Wildcats a chance in the fourth quarter.

Running backs:

A-: Ka’Deem Carey ran hungry and strong against the Trojans and got results. For the 12th time in the last 13 games, the junior went over 100 yards. He finished with 138 yards on 21 carries and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. He had a long of 39 yards and made plays when he was called on. He also had six catches for 36 yards and was often a safety option for Denker when he was forced to scramble. 

Wide receivers:

B: The wide receivers were active and made plays for the first time this season. Senior Terrence Miller, who had three catches for 28 yards coming into the game, had six catches for 76 yards. Garic Wharton caught two passes for 73 yards and both went for touchdowns. David Richards emerged in the second half to have a couple of nice grabs, including a fourth quarter touchdown and freshman Nate Phillips hauled in a 57-yard touchdown pass. This group made life easier for Denker, which is the first time this season that can be said.

Offensive line:

C+: UA coach Rich Rodriguez again said after the games, the holes weren’t big enough for Carey in the run game, who should have had more space to run. Denker was sacked twice, which isn’t bad, but was under a lot of heat throughout the game. Senior guard Chris Putton, who tweaked his knee against Washington, didn’t start, but entered in the second quarter.

Defense

Front six:

C-: Arizona’s front generated very little pressure on USC quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler threw it 30 times and wasn’t sacked once. The defensive backs took a lot of heat for allowing so many receiving yards, but they didn’t get a lot of help from the front six, who weren’t getting any pressure. Jake Fischer, who sprained his ankle against Washington, gutted it out against USC, but clearly wasn’t at 100 percent. Marquis Flowers had an active game with 14 tackles—1 ½ of which went for a loss.

Back five:

D+: Senior cornerback Shaq Richardson had a first half to forget. The Carson, Calif. native, who was strong in the team’s first four games of the season, committed two personal foul penalties in the first half and like fellow corner Jonathan McKnight, had a tough time sticking with USC receiver Nelson Agholor. Tra’Mayne Bondurant had six tackles and a quarterback hurry, but wasn’t nearly as active as he was to start the season.

Special teams

D+: Punter Drew Riggleman ended up averaging 40 yards per put on six attempts, but USC got a piece of two of his kicks. Riggleman tried the rugby style punt a couple of times and USC seemed to sniff it out. Kicker Jake Smith missed a critical 38-yard field goal in the first quarter when UA could have used three points. He did convert on a 27-yarder later in the game. The team also had a bad snap on an extra point attempt, but got another crack at it because a USC player tried to kick the ball downfield. The highlight for the return game was a 21-yard return on a punt by Johnny Jackson.

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About this blog

Daniel Berk began covering UA football in 2013 after spending two-plus years as the Star's high school sports coordinator. Previously, he served as the sports editor and NAU beat writer for the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff for three years.

A University of Kansas graduate and St. Louis native, Berk is still getting used to 350 days of sunshine, the relentless "dry heat" of the summer and the fact that Tucson doesn't have a real hockey rink.

Contact Daniel at dberk@azstarnet.com or by calling 573-4330. Follow him on Twitter @DSBerk.

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