January 26, 2009

Maualuga makes big plays in Mobile

With USC's pro day and the NFL Scouting Combine still to come, Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. wasn't the last chance for scouts to get a look at the six Trojans on the field.

It was, however, a chance for the Trojans to work against the nation's top seniors, measuring themselves against some of the best professional prospects.

While the Trojan-heavy South team won 35-18, were the USC seniors, individually, winners? The results were mixed.

Rey Maualuga

The good: In probably the biggest highlights of the day for a Trojan, Maualuga forced a fumble in the second quarter, stripping Cedric Peerman while fighting off a block at the same time. Then, Maualuga blew up a screen play on second-and-long, delivering a big hit. Maualuga finished with three solo tackles.

The bad: Old demons die hard. Maualuga, like he did at USC, ran himself out of position a number of times. Instead of gap control, Maualuga attacks the runner at times, opening up a cutback lane.

Brian Cushing

The good: Nothing major, really. Cushing only had one tackle in the game. He did show good speed numerous times, flying to the ball. He showed he's got good strength, shedding some blocks. Cushing showed he's more than capable to cover a running back in the flat.

The bad: Cushing over ran a play on a rushing attack, getting to the outside too quickly after putting a big hit on the lead blocker. Later in the same drive, Cushing didn't finish up a tackle.

Clay Matthews

The good: While he only had one tackle, Matthews looked good in special teams coverage, getting down the field for the first point of impact, in position to clean up a tackle if need be. Matthews was also asked to cover the tight ends a lot, and he did a fine job.

The bad: No real flash here. Like Cushing, Matthews didn't make the big play that would have really vaulted his stock. He did get beat on a short touchdown pass, getting a step behind above Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson.

Fili Moala

The good: Moala showed some good reaction to the snap, getting an initial push against offensive guards. He also showed some good hustle, getting down the field on a screen pass.

The bad: Like a lot of the Trojan defenders, the numbers don't show any real dominance. Moala had a single tackle. He also didn't do enough when he was single blocked.

Kyle Moore

The good: Moore showed some good speed off the edge, recording one sack and helping force the quarterback into a teammates' arms on another. Moore made a heady play to put his hands on a player already on the ground to kill a play - an NFL rule that is not in college football.

The bad: Moore missed on a tackle in the first quarter, as Cedric Peerman ran through his arms for a short gain. Other than that, he didn't make any major gaffes.

Patrick Turner

The good: Turner had three catches, including a tightly run out route on third-and-8. Turner created space with a head fake, and got down low to make a nice catch on a John Parker Wilson throw. On the same drive, Turner got open on a comeback route. Later in the first half, Turner ran a nice slant route for a first down. Turner played through an ankle injury.

The bad: Turner didn't make a single tackler miss in any of his three catches. He looked like he may be limited as a possession-type receiver who only gets open on intermediate routes.


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