Notebook: USC at Hawaii

USC opened its 2013 season Thursday night at Aloha Stadium with a 30-13 win over Hawaii. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler started for the Trojans, but it was the USC defense who stole the show.

Kessler gets the start
An hour and a half before kickoff, USC confirmed redshirt sophomore Cody Kessler would start at quarterback over Max Wittek.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin told the media before leaving Los Angeles on Tuesday for Hawaii that he'd made up his mind about which quarterback would take the field first. At the time he didn't lead on to who it would be, instead opting to say that he didn't want to spoil the ending to a good movie.

There might need to be a sequel.

"We didn't play very well on offense," Kiffin said after the 30-13 season opening win against Hawaii.

Kessler played the first half and the first series of the second half. He finished 10-of-19 for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked once.

"Going into last week [Kessler & Wittek] were neck and neck," Kiffin explained. "We told Max that Cody just had a little bit better of a week."

Wittek might have just had a little bit better of a game. He replaced Kessler after Kessler went three and out to start the second half.

But Wittek didn't get off to much better of a start than Kessler. His first two series resulted in three and out, he was sacked once in each series.

Wittek finished 5-of-10 for 77 yards and was sacked twice.

Pendergast's defense taking shape
Here's something USC fans have been waiting to hear for a few seasons now, the defense was the shining point of the Trojans' team.

"[We] were great on defense," Kiffin said.

For the first time since 2005 when Fresno State was the opponent, USC's defense grabbed four interceptions.

Linebacker Hayes Pullard and safeties Josh Shaw, Su'a Cravens, and Dion Bailey all got in on the action.

Shaw returned his pick 35 yards for a touchdown, giving the Trojans a 17-5 lead.

But perhaps the most impressive interception came from Cravens, a true freshman earning his first career start. Cravens broke out of seemingly nowhere in the second series of the game to pick off Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham. It was his first career interception waering Cardinal and Gold.

Pendergast's front seven collected seven sacks on the Hawaii quarterback, including two by both Leonard Williams and George Uko.

Seymour and Brown out
Arguably, the thinnest position on the USC depth chart just got thinner. Both starting cornerbacks Anthony Brown and Kevon Seymour were sidelined during the first half of the game.

Both watched the second half in sweats from the sidelines.

Brown recorded two tackles.

Four backs travel and play
Senior tailback Silas Redd and redshirt junior D.J. Morgan did not make the trip to Hawaii due to injury, but the four backs who did all saw playing time in the season opening win.

Redshirt sophomore Tre Madden rushed for 112 yards on 18 carries. Behind a weak offensive line, Madden found his way around the pile multiple times for big gains.

Freshmen Justin Davis and Ty Isaac also saw their first career carries.

Davis, the freshman star of spring practices, rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries, including his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Buck Allen, the tailback workhorse of fall camp and only player in the group to maintain his health through the three weeks, also got in on the run-game action, picking up 19 yards on four carries.

Together, the tailbacks rushed for 228 of the Trojans total 364 offensive yards.

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