With so much news breaking this afternoon about the coaching staff going forward, we'll hold off on the news and commentary portion of Noteworthy until after we talk to Clay Helton at 6 on his weekly conference call.
Iman Marshall, who we saw little of after halftime, was getting his head/eyes checked out on the bench but he walked out of the lockerroom quickly to the bus so not sure if that was anything. Otherwise no obvious serious issues coming out of the game . . . Neither emergency player -- Leon McQuay III or Khaliel Rodgers got into the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
58,476Not a bad turnout -- and especially good from the USC side of it -- although the crowd had a tough time getting into Levi's Stadium, a traffic nightmare in terms of the parking lots.
8 straightUnder Clay Helton, USC has trailed the last eight straight games after the first quarter. Starting to see a pattern here although Trojans did rally to win five of those for Clay, whose USC record in two terms now as interim and head coach is 6-3.
35:42 to 24:18Trojans got smoked in time of possession, a stat they'd owned until Stanford. Although it wasn't as bad as the 39:29 to 20:31 edge Stanford owned the first time these teams played this year. But this was only the secondtime with Helton as coach USC lost the TOP battle. Other time was at Colorado.
11One piece of offensive good news was the Pac-12 record 11 catches by Juju Smith-Schuster. Not so good news was this number: Those 11 catches resulted in just 87 yards, less than 8.0 yards a catch and way too often short of the sticks.
67-1Stanford kicker Conrad Ukopina has converted his last 67 straight extra point attempts. USC's Alex Wood, meanwhile, after getting his first try blocked, has converted one in a row. Can you say one in a row when it's just one?
461After racking up a Stanford and Pac-12 championship game record 461 all-purpose yards, Christian McCaffrey looked like he could play at least another half. And the USC defense probably would still be looking surprised that they kept getting the ball to him.
2, 2 -- 100 plus, 100 plusHow good is the versatile McCaffrey? Well, he has two games this season -- after last night -- when he's run for more than 100 yards and caught passes for more than 100 yards. How unique is that? Well, in all the rest of the entire 128 FBS teams, only two players have done that once this season. Think about that. This kid is special. And he's only a sophomore. Might want to pay attention to him next year, Trojans. Just sayin'.
255-80The USC offense was outgained 255 yards to 80 by McCaffrey's all-purpose yards the first half.
3-0, 2001The last time USC scored fewer than the three points it scored in the first half against Stanford came back in 2001 -- Pete Carroll's first season at Troy, when the Trojans were trailing 21-0 at intermission. So is that a hopeful sign? USC fans can only hope it is.
4, 13Two disconnected USC numbers. Nico Falah was the fourth center to start for USC this season and Olajuwon Tucker's game-high 13 tackles were a career high and tied for a season single-game high with Su'a Cravens.
16, 155Want to feel good about a couple of meaningless stats? Here are two. The 16 passing yards USC allowed Stanford the first half were a record low for a Pac-12 Championship Game and the 155 total for the game were also a record low.
0That's the number of plays again for backup QB Max Browne. Thinking that with all the pounding Cody took and the inability on that last drive, for example, for Cody to chuck it down the field, is that the time to get Max into the game and tell him to unleash the deep ball? Just askin'.
STANFORD COACH DAVID SHAW on how similar this game was to the first game against USC -- and how it wasn't: "They ran the ball a little bit more this game and they ran it very physically. It was tough. It was tough to stop. They cracked a couple of good runs and they've got good players, they've got good backs. We needed to tackle better at times. But at the same time, you miss tackles because you're going against really good football players. Those guys are known to break tackles and we rallied around and made enough plays. We knew it was going to be tight. We knew it was going to be close. But at some point, we're going to have to bow up and make a couple of plays to separate and that's what our guys did."
CLAY HELTON on this USC program's prospects: "We've got a bright future at SC and it started with a bunch of seniors -- especially the two kids that are up here," he said of Kessler and junior Su'a Cravens. "They led us to this thing. I'm sorry that we didn't finish it for them. But they've put us on track to be able to do some great things.”
CODY KESSLER on getting his wish with the hiring of Helton. Did he feel let down? “No . . . this man here is 100 percent the right man for this job. He earned it, he deserved it. I would play for this guy until the day I died if I could . . . he's one of the best coaches I've played for in my life -- and an even better man . . . it's not on him . . . Stanford's a great team."
SU'A CRAVENS on Helton as head coach: "Stanford just beat us. You can't say much else about it. You can't blame Coach Helton at all. He gave his all and we gave him our all. I don't think it was a letdown at all. When we announced him as our head coach, it was a relief. We were glad we got our guy. That's who we wanted. We knew we were going to war with him but we just didn't get the result we needed. That's football.”
SHAW AGAIN on what this Stanford team did . . . and by inference, what USC didn't: "We just keep battling, we keep playing. We know if we play our game, we'll fight back into it. If we're up, we know if we play our game, we'll extend the lead. There's a confidence that our guys have earned by how well they've played the last few years. No matter the score, we don''t change what we do or how we play the game . . . We trust the scheme. We trust the guys doing the scheme.”
ZACH BANNER on what this game -- and his emotional reaction to the loss -- tells him about himself: "It tells me I'm not complacent. Guys who have the option I have, to go or stay (he says he'll let us know within the week) can get complacent. I didn't. I love this school. I love this game.”
ADOREE' JACKSON on how this USC team can play so bad the first half, come from behind to take the lead, and then get outscored 28-6 down the strretch: "That's crazy . . . we just need to execute on all cylinders and we didn't."
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