Steven Sarkisian

Zoned out: Boston College tramples No. 9 USC

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The USC Trojans equipment manager is going to have a hard time getting the cleat marks out of the team’s uniforms after the Boston College Eagles ran all over them.

Boston College ran for an eye-popping 453 yards during its 37-31 victory at Alumni Stadium.

The two teams were a complete reversal from the ones seen during the previous week. Boston College lost to Pitt, and the Eagles were gouged for 303 rushing yards.  USC, meanwhile, toppled Stanford and held the Cardinal to a respectable 128 yards on the ground.

Those previous games helped define Saturday’s contest.

Boston College appeared much more confident on offense and far more sound on defending the run, while USC looked worn down and simply couldn’t hold up against another physical run-first offense.

One of the biggest differences in these contests for USC, particularly in the second half, was an inability to effectively contain the zone read. Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy absolutely gashed the Trojans by making the right read at the mesh point. More often than not, the USC defender being optioned had no clue how to properly defend the play. Murphy had 36 rushing yards through two quarters of play. The senior quarterback finished the game with 191 yards on the ground.

Murphy’s slight of hand in the second half was mesmerizing.

To place into context how dominating Boston College’s performance was, USC totaled 20 rushing yards.

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio also discovered he has a freshman running back in Jon Hilliman who can become the focal point of the team’s rushing attack for the rest of the season. Hilliman had a game high of 19 carries and finished with 89 yards.

The one positive for the Trojans was the play of quarterback Cody Kessler. The junior signal caller was 31-of-41 passing for 317 yards and four touchdowns. Kessler brought USC within six points with 1:18 remaining, but the Trojans defense once again couldn’t stop Boston College’s running game when the game was one the line.

USC will fly cross country and return home battered and bruised. It’s not hard to figure out what USC head coach Steven Sarkisian will be thinking about during the flight, “How can we defend the zone read?”