USC WR Marqise Lee still striking fear into defenses


USC's resurgence under interim coach Ed Orgeron continued in Saturday's 62-28 win over California, and, believe or not, the Trojans are back in contention for the Pac-12 South Division title. Here are some of the players that caught my eye as I called the game Saturday:

WR Marqise Lee

A knee injury that kept him out for all or part of four games is still hampering the reigning Biletnikoff award winner, but there is no doubt that he's everything you want in a wide receiver, even at 85 percent, which is where he's at right now. He terrifies a defense just by being on the field and creates opportunities for other receivers. At 100 percent health, when he's full speed, he's as good as there is in college football. He's still working on becoming a better technician as a route runner and receiver, but his athleticism right now allows him to get away with a few things that others might not get away with. He can be scary good.

WR/RS Nelson Agholor

Agholor, who played running back in high school, had two of USC's NCAA record-tying three punt returns for touchdowns (75 and 93 yards) Saturday. When he runs after the catch, or in kick-return situations, you see the running back in him come out. He had to learn everything from the ground up as a receiver when he arrived at USC because he had been a running back. He's a tremendous worker. He really looked up to Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills this year, last season and tried to emulate all the things they were doing in terms of work ethic. Now he's such a good technician in running routes that Lee is trying to emulate him. That's pretty impressive for a sophomore receiver.

DB Josh Shaw

Shaw, who returned a blocked punt for a TD against Cal, plays safety and corner for the Trojans, although he has spent the bulk of his time at corner in recent weeks, and has really solidified the secondary. He excels at using his big frame and making plays on the ball. Shaw does a nice job of reading the eyes and the hands of the receiver, which allows him to go up for the football and knock it away. He diagnoses plays well -- I saw him stuff a misdirection play that looked like it could go for a long gain Saturday. He's a very intelligent, strong, forceful and unselfish player.

TE Xavier Grimble

I think Grimble is a prospect who has been held back because of injuries this year. He played against Cal and looked a little more like himself. He is a classic big, move tight end. As he gets healthier, we'll continue to see him improve. Grimble has nice hands and runs good routes.

DE/OLB J.R. Tavai

Tavai has pretty much languished on the bench and played special teams for most of his career at USC, but he's getting more of an opportunity this season and has really produced in recent games. On Saturday I saw him getting into passing lanes and making plays on the ball. He flashed as a pass rusher, too. Tavai bears watching as he keeps earning more and more reps. He came out of nowhere this season, and I'd keep an eye on him.

DL George Uko

On Saturday I saw Uko make plays in the backfield on running plays, pursuing down the line on run plays and even pass plays to the perimeter. He's a hustler with a nice motor. Uko is a five-technique defensive end in the base package, but he swings inside in the nickel, and guards have trouble with his quickness and strength.

RB Silas Redd

Redd had to leave the game vs. Cal because of a knee injury, but he was running well early in the game. He is an every-down back who runs with good vision, power and determination. Redd can also catch the ball out of the backfield and pass protect a little bit. He shows very good short-area burst.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter @CFD22.

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