They weren't happy about how this one went. And yet they seem to be developing a confidence level in having to come back week after week -- and managing to do so.
"A hard-nosed personality," Su'a Cravens says, something they picked up when despite their comeback, they couldn't hold on at Notre Dame.
It's a double-edged sword, for sure. Keep starting like this, keep falling behind by double digits and there's no way they survive Oregon on the road and UCLA at the Coliseum.
"Oregon?" he repeated the questioner's comment. "Yeah, we gotta' play better."
And of course, Clay Helton agreed.
"It wasn't the start we wanted the last two weeks," Kessler said finding the good and the funny in all of this. "The guys seemed ready. I guess we just love giving Coach Helton a heart attack."
But "it's really cool under all the circumstances for us to pull out a win like this being down 14," Kessler said. "The guys fought back. We were down going into halftime and Coach Helton came in and got guys pumped up. We made adjustments, we talked about it, we figured out what we were going to do and the guys responded great."
Linebackers Cameron Smith (looked like his hamstring again) and Lamar Dawson (not sure) were dinged and unable to continue . . . and Leon McQuay III, after warming up and looking very much up to speed, came out after the teams went into the locker room after pregame warmups and changed into his sweats and was no longer available to play despite leaving USC with just two true safeties . . . Juju Smith-Schuster had to have a new cast -- smaller through the palm of his rght hand -- put on at halftime, he said. "Good information," he said as he observed the notes being taken when he talked about it . . . And we do observe he did make his TD catch after halftime and the change in casts . . .In other injury news, starting CU quarterback Sefo Liufao will be out six to eight months and miss spring ball with a lisfranc (midfoot) injury suffered in the first quarter.
BY THE NUMBERS
32:43 to 22:52The amount of time each team had the lead. Colorado had nearly 10 minutes more leading the game, a surprise since in the 10 games played in this series, Colorado had led only once previously -- in 2011. For just 4:25 in this one, the lead was tied.
5-1Clay Helton's record as interim coach in his two terms at USC.
8-7-6Those are the tackle numbers for USC's leaders: Cravens had eight, Anthony Sarao had seven and Cameron Smith, John Plattenburg and Iman Marshall had six each.
5 of 13Both teams had the exact same results on third-down conversions with USC improving from the 1 of 7 the first half with 4 of 6 the second.
9-0 Nov. 13How's this for a weird deal. Colorado had a perfect record in nine games played on Nov. 13 until Friday but it had never played a Friday the 13th game and when it did, it lost.
1 of 5For the first time this season, a Helton-USC team lost the time of possession battle with Colorado having the ball for 31:10 to USC's 27:02.
0 for 3, 10 for 10How are these for horrendous red zone numbers in the first half. USC was 0 for 3 in third-down conversions in the red zone the first half and gained a simply awful 10 yards in 10 plays in the red zone that first half.
131-39USC had outscored opponents 131-39 in the second quarter this season but CU had the upper hand 10-3 Friday.
10, 17, 20410 different Trojan receivers caught 17 passes (no one more than the three of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steven Mitchell and Justn Davis) for 204 yards..
11 of 16With its one successful fourth down conversion in its only attempt, USC is now 11 of 16 for the season to its opponents' 5 of 17 after Colorado went 1 for 2 Friday.
CLAY HELTON on where this team is: "If you said that in the beginning of the year that you'd gotten an opportunity to win the Pac-12 South with two games to go, that's where you want to be . . . the problem is, we got two really good teams we're getting ready to play and the first one up is Oregon. We've got some stuff to clean up, especially offensively. I'm a little bit harder on the offense than I am on the defense."
CLAY HELTON'S FATHER KIM was at the game dressed in USC coaching gear and talking about his son as a father and also a longtime NFL and college assistant and former head coach at the University of Houston: "USC has a lot of really great kids but they're also really young . . . but I think they've got a heck of a head coach."
CODY KESSLER on his teammates bouncing back after that bad first half: "I'm not going to say they got sick of getting beat in the first half. I think at halftime everybody came said 'We're in this together, we can either quit or we can come out and play as hard as we can.' It shows how close this team is. The offense has a long drive and starts making plays and immediately the defense gets a turnover. We kind of feed off each other and I think that's just us coming together over the past few weeks."
SU'A CRAVENS on what exactly happened: "I don't know but I'll take the win . . . It's November. I think most of our games are going to be like that."
COLORADO COACH MIKE MACINTYRE on USC's halftime adjustments: "They made some but we just fumbled the ball to them . . . but give Southern Cal some credit, they made some adjustments there . . . Mainly we kind of gave them the game a little bit."
JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER On what the deal was for him to do his early pregame warmups in shorts and no shirt as the weather got down into the 30s and what he hopes to get out of another comeback win: "They were yelling at me from the stands about that and I just told them 'I'm from here' . . . "And we want our next head coach to be Coach Helton, not just this year but next year."
DELVON SIMMONS on the blocked kick: "We ran the same play the first time they attempted a field goal and this time we switched sides. They didn't flip the offensive linemen so that lineman didn't know what was going on. I knew it was going to happen. I was going to come and Jabari [Ruffin] got a great 'mug' on the tackle that allowed me come free. I give credit to all the other guys too."
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