Lots of talk but more than anything, numbers, numbers and more numbers from USC's impressive freshmen-fueled 52-13 romp over Fresno State. We break it down a bit here.
We'll start with the numbers, the amazing numbers that the USC-Fresno State game produced, the numbers racked up by a team facing a numbers challenge.
BY THE NUMBERS
It's not supposed to go this way. Hurryup teams aren't supposed to dominate in time of possession the way USC did in nearly doubling the Bulldogs up. but then Fresno State played no-huddle, uptempo as well. Or tried to. That opening 17-play, 90-yard drive with four-for-four on third-down conversions made it clear this was where the Trojans were going.
Sure, USC may have had just 57 originally recruited scholarship players available Saturday but they also had 11 true freshmen who played as well as six more redshirt freshmen including three walkons who made it to the field.
USC hasn't lost a season opener since 1997 when Florida State knocked off the Trojans. The last six head coaches since then, (1998), Pete Carroll (2001), Lane Kiffin (2010), Ed Orgeron (2013), Clay Helton (2013) and Steve Sarkisian (2014) all won their debut games. Only Nebraska (29 straight) and Florida (24) have longer streaks.
USC's Pac-12 record 105 plays exceeded the previous record of 103 set by Arizona against Stanford in 2012 in a one-overtime game. The NCAA record is 113 by Northwestern (2009), Houston (2012) and BYU (2013). USC's 701 yards on offense are the most since the Trojans racked up 745 against Washington State in 2005.
How about Cody Kessler's back-to-back career-high passing yards against the Bulldogs. He had four TD tosses each with his 394 yards Saturday on 25 of 37 passing in three quarters eclipsing his 345 from last December in the Las Vegas Bowl. Although the number that really jumps out here has to be his 309 yards on 20 of 31 passing the first half to get USC out to a 31-7 intermission lead.
4-123, 3-36, 1-22, 1-8, 2 TDs:
Those are the pass-catching totals for the four freshman receivers, in order, Juju Smith, Adoree Jackson, Bryce Dixon and Ajene Harris in their first-ever college game. That's nine catches for 189 yards. No wonder the Trojans managed 10 receivers catching a pass against Fresno State.
133-22-6.0, 5 of 7:
Buck Allen's rushing line. Maybe it's a little lost in all the aerial fireworks involving so many newcomers. It's the fifth time in the last seven games Buck has hit the century mark.
5-60, 5-57, 3-54, 3-20, 2-21:
With all the talk about the freshmen, how about the work the veterans did catching the ball. Darreus Rogers' 60 yards came on a number of big third-down possession grabs while Nelson Agholor had two TDs in his five catches for 57 yards. Victor Blackwell (3 for 54), George Farmer (3-30) and Justin Davis (2 for 21) all had multiple catches,
4 of 5, 3 for 10:
In his pass-run debut, redshirt freshman QB Max Browne hit on 80 percent of his passes late in the game and even carried the ball three times for 10 yards. Although like Kessler, he'll have to work on the slide finish.
That's the number of USC's sacks. And it came from backup Cody Temple. Which tells us the Trojans defense went as vanilla as a team can go. Stanford is going to have to guess where the blitzes and pressure will be coming from.
USC may have run off a Pac-12 record 105 plays but according to Kessler, who said it wasn't all that tough since "we ran just 10 plays and kept running them over and over." Again, do we see a vanilla gameplan that should keep Stanford guessing? We do.
The one loss was a broken foot suffered by valuable senior walkon tight end Chris Willson, in the three-man rotation at the position, leaving USC with just two scholarship players in the rotation there now -- freshman Dixon and starter Randall Telfer. This will require some adjustment this week for Stanford.
STEVE SARKISIAN On this team's ability to focus on football in the face of distractions: "I don't know if it brought us closer but it reinforced what we're about. They went through a lot last year and and with the transition, there were a lot of moments when these guys had to cling together and ultimately it showed in how they played in the bowl game. I didn't want to steal it but I didn't want to lose it either so we built upon it . . . each of us are there for one another. Our coaching staff is tight for the team and that goes a long, long way."
CODY KESSLER On whether he addressed the distractions of the past week with the team: "No, not at all. You saw last year that we went through so much and we're tight because of it. Coach Sark makes it about us and we practice Monday through Friday and never once did these guys get rattled. It showed tonight."
Leonard Williams On the way the USC defense played: "We had great energy in executing what we've been working on. We stopped the run. There's a lot we still have to work on . . . like on the goal line." FRESNO STATE COACH TIM DERUYTER On the physical matchup with USC: "Our guys got worn down a bit in the second half. It's partly due to who you're going against. Those are some big bodies. There were a couple of times . . . in the second half we wore down a bit . . . They are physical and really talented. They're big up front, their linebackers are physical and their secondary played well. It's hard to keep pressure off the quarterback and give him time to make throws. We were effective at times but a lot of times we couldn't get their hands down and they tipped balls."
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