Cotton Bowl notes: USC’s defensive prowess, record day for WR Deontay Burnett

USC's defense did their part at the Cotton Bowl.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas — The future of USC’s defense is very bright.

The Trojans held the Buckeyes, a team that averages nearly 500 yards and 42 points a game, to 277 yards and 24 points during the Cotton Bowl loss at AT&T Stadium.

That’s great, except for the 14 points of two Sam Darnold turnovers, something USC could not overcome on Friday.

Back to the Trojans’ D, things look promising for the future, but now comes the ‘who-will-leave-early-for-the-NFL-Draft’ fun.

Assuming all of the USC draft-eligible underclassmen return, and that’s a huge assumption, look out 2018 season!

Sophomore John Houston, a Serra High School graduate, netted 8 tackles on the evening.

“Everyone did their job, from the defensive line to the safeties, everyone did their job and did what they had to do,” Houston said.

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Junior defense end Rasheem Green,  another Serra product, recorded 1 sack and a tackle for a loss. Junior linebacker Cameron Smith led the way with 10 stops. And the Trojans secondary …. junior safety Marvell Tell (Crespi), sophomore cornerback Jack Jones (Long Beach Poly) and junior cornerback Iman Marshall (Long Beach Poly) … held the Ohio State passing game in check.

The Trojans do lose stud linebacker Uchennea Nwosu, nose tackle Josh Fatu (Lakewood) and strong safety Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga) but, with excellent recruiting classes … hello CIF-SS … USC should be able to replenish the ranks and challenge for a College Football Playoff spot in a year.

“It was pretty successful. We won a Pac-12 Championship. We got 11 wins. We wanted this last one, but it never went that way. I would say this season was successful on the whole,” said Hawkins on his last game with USC. “It’s a team game. I don’t put blame on offense, defense, special teams or anything. It’s a team game. As a team, they were better than us today.”

Notes

Junior running back Ronald Jones scored his 20th touchdown of the season on a one-yard run just before halftime.

“They’re the best defense we’ve seen this season. We went in and made a couple of adjustments, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough,” said Jones, who gained 72 yards on 19 carries.

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Deontay Burnett is now the 18th Trojan with over 1,000 yards receiving on a season. The junior from Serra set a Cotton Bowl record with 12 catches , which gave him 139 yards on the night.

“We were just a bit flustered. Timing was off a little bit. You’ve just got to look at those plays and then move on the next play and keep fighting,” Burnett said.