Notes, quotes and news from the Trojans' 55-6 win over the Red Wolves.

They were looking at the USC defense but seeing it from a different angle. Which may really be the good news here. There are lots of different ways to quantify the improvements that have a lot to do with quantity.

Chris Hawkins, who had both an interception, a fumble recovery and five tackles while playing two positions, said he thought it came down to quality depth: "It feels good to have guys who can go in at any moment in the game. Leon McQuay and Matt Lopes played great today. It feels good because the stress isn't on you . . . when you're tired, you can call on a sub."

"That will be part of the plan," Steve Sarkisian said, "until it goes astray," which it didn't Saturday. "The only way in this game you get better is by playing . . . I want us to improve individually but also collectively and that comes from playing."

Cameron Smith had an answer that sounded like it came from a coach. "We prepared well," said the first freshman to start an opener at inside linebacker since Riki Gray (now Ellison) did in 1978.

Jabari Ruffin said it does come down to coaching, especially when he saw that fumble he'd ripped loose land in the hands of Hawkins. "It shows our coaching is effective," he said of the strip drill he did in the game. "There's nothing more important than the ball."



That's how far the three USC freshmen scored from with Osa Masina picking up a loose ball backward pass for his from 46 yards out. Ronald Jones II hit his from 44 and Aca'cedric Ware busted it in from the 6.


With next week's Sun Belt followup with Idaho, it will mark USC's first back-to-back non-conference games against teams from the same conference since 1953 when USC played the Big 10's Minnesota and Indiana back-to-back.


Just three penalties. For 25 yards. You read that right. And with a Pac-12 crew calling the game. Maybe there's a new day dawning here. Nice job by the Trojans.

18 straight

That was USC's 18th straight win in an opening game.


USC had 23 players who debuted their USC careers against Arkansas State, 13 of them true freshmen.


Tre Madden's 65-yard TD run was his career-long run while JuJu Schuster-Smith's 61-yard catch and run TD was his career-long reception.


Su'a Cravens' INT was the eighth of his career, Chris Hawkins' his second.


USC was hoping for 70,000 attendance and got nearly 10,000 more than that.


Kenny Bigelow's sack was the first of his career.

19 of 26, 73.1 percent

This was the 11th time in his career Cody Kessler completed more than 70 percent of his passes.

4 for 28

Both career-high totals for Steven Mitchell for catches and yards receiving as he recorded his third career receiving TD.


STEVE SARKISIAN On Adoree's status: "We don't think it's serious. He felt a little twinge and didn't have great strength at halftime."

SARK AGAIN: On pass protection issues: "We had a couple of blown assignments and gave up some sacks. There was a combination of things. I think we shored it up in the second half but it will be a point of emphasis when we go back."

ARKANSAS STATE COACH BLAKE ANDERSON On what went wrong when they couldn't get pressure on Cody: "Their receivers are way too fast and explosive to give him a lot of time. We got some pressure on him but not enough."

SU'A CRAVENS On why this defense is better: "We're a lot more athletic . . . and there are a lot more playmakers for us."

SAM DARNOLD On what it's like to have so many of his fellow freshmen out there playing while he's rooting them on in what almost surely will be a redshirt year for him: "I'd love to be out there . . . I don't want to be just a cheerleader. But oh my God, I knew this class was going to be something special but this is the best recruiting class since the heyday here."

DOMNIC DAVIS On the three freshman running backs: "We're tight . . . I was so happy when RoJo and Ced scored . . . I'm going to get mine next."

SU'A CRAVENS On why this defense is better: "We're a lot more athletic . . . and there are a lot more playmakers for us."

KENNY BIGELOW On what to call him: "I'm not in that group," he said of the freshmen. "Call me an unseasoned veteran . . . But I feel like I have some pepper now."

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