News & Analysis

Alabama-USC grades: Tide front seven put on a show

at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Alabama Crimson Tide 52, USC Trojans 6

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from Alabama's dominant 52-6 victory over USC:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Quarterback grades: Jalen Hurts, 60.1; Blake Barnett, 65.6

Through one game, it’s difficult to give the edge either way in the Alabama quarterback competition. Jalen Hurts made the splashier plays (good and bad), and he certainly flashed as a runner, while Blake Barnett was more accurate, albeit on fewer opportunities. In the end Barnett earns the higher grade for going 5-of-6, with his lone incompletion coming on a drop from Calvin Ridley.

Top offensive grades:

TE O.J. Howard, 75.8
C. Bradley Bozeman, 74.9
WR ArDarius Stewart, 72.4
WR Gehrig Dieter, 70.7
RB Damien Harris, 70.5

Skill positions reload for Crimson Tide 

Most schools take considerable steps back after losing a Heisman Trophy-winning running back to the NFL. Not Alabama, though. The running back by committee approach clearly saw Damien Harris rise to the top Saturday. No other back had a carry go for 10-plus yards in the game, while Harris had three such runs. Alabama’s run game doesn’t look like it’s making any sort of regression this season.

Top defensive grades:

DE Jonathan Allen, 88.8
LB Reuben Foster, 85.4
LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, 84.2
CB Marlon Humphrey, 83.2
DE Tim Williams, 80.2

Bama's defense simply too big, too fast, too strong for USC

There are no better words to describe how I felt grading the Crimson Tide defense Saturday night other than “in awe.” It’s almost a given that the whole front seven will be playing in the NFL. The grades are absurd and there’s not nearly enough space here to give every player their due. The projected high draft picks did not disappoint, though. Interior lineman Jonathan Allen had the highest-graded game of his college career while edge rusher Tim Williams recorded a pressure on a whopping 29 percent of his pass rushes.

USC Trojans

Quarterback grade: Max Browne, 67.4

If one is looking to rush to a conclusion about the Trojans' new starter after one game, I’d advise against it. Browne was put in a position as unfavorable as can be, and even though the stats are unkind, his middling grade reflects his true performance. One would think going 14-for-30 that Browne was wildly inaccurate, but that was far from the case. Simply put, his receivers weren’t getting open. Alabama defenders broke up a ridiculous six passes at the catch point Saturday night. There is something to be said for not forcing the ball into tight windows, but he’ll never see tighter ones in his college career.

BrownePressureWeek1

Top offensive grades: 
RB Aca’Cedric Ware, 67.9
QB Max Browne, 67.9
WR Steven Mitchell Jr., 66.9
RB Ronald Jones, 61.6
WR De’Quan Hampton, 55.5

Trojans' offensive line completely overpowered

It’s nearly impossible to win a football game when your offensive line is as outmatched as USC’s was Saturday. I jokingly remarked to a colleague that I didn’t recall giving out a positively graded run block to a Trojan lineman in the first half. After going back and looking it up it turned out I was wrong – they had one. You know things went badly when offensive tackle Zach Banner, their best lineman, ends up yielding a sack, a hit and four hurries.

Top defensive grades:
S Leon McQuay III, 82.5
DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, 80.3
CB Adoree’ Jackson, 72.1
ILB Cameron Smith, 72.2
DL Noah Jefferson, 69.6

Busted coverages and long runs do USC in

There was a lot of blame to go around for USC’s defensive ineptitude Saturday, but rather than dwell on the negative, I’d like to highlight two positive performances. Senior safety Leon McQuay III was easily the Trojans' best player on the field in this one. He was crucial in stopping the Alabama screen game early on and added a pass defensed on his only target. The other standout was transfer defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu. He was a force against the run and while he only made one stop, Tu’ikolovatu altered many other runs.

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