HONOLULU -Even USC running back Marc Tyler had a hard time explaining what he had done on his 44-yard touchdown run to salt away a victory at Hawaii on Thursday night.
"I just jumped back, then I took it backside and cut it in – I don't really know what I did on that," said Tyler after his first-career start. "When you score, you really don't remember it."
The former Westlake Village Oaks Christian standout rushed for 154 yards and that score, marking the final chapter in a remarkable turnaround that nearly saw him leave the Trojans.
"I was real excited," Tyler said of his emotions before the game. "I had to call my dad before the game, I told him I was nervous and he started laughing at me."
Tyler also heard from former teammates like Jimmy Clausen and Broderick Green before the game.
The redshirt junior benefited from the blocking in front of him, as the projected starting five of Matt Kalil, Butch Lewis, Kris O'Dowd, Khaled Holmes and Tyron Smith were finally all on the field at the same time.
Tyler wasn't surprised at how effective the starting offensive line was, despite hardly playing together during fall camp.
"I knew we were going to be good even though a lot of guys were injured. We kind of came back together the last couple days. You could tell they were going to be good," he said.
USC wasn't surprised when Hawaii used the Pistol, a shotgun formation where the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback, but it did make for some last-minute adjustments.
"They had not run the Pistol before. It was actually on the news last night," coach Lane Kiffin said. "Our defense spent all morning preparing for it."
"I guess I wish we wouldn't have watched the news. It didn't help very much," said Kiffin after Hawaii finished with 588 yards of total offense.
Robert Woods became the first true freshman to start a season opener at wide receiver for USC. He finished with four receptions for 46 yards and added six kickoff returns for 96 yards.
"As a freshman, he did a lot better than I did," senior receiver Ronald Johnson said.
Three other true freshmen played against Hawaii including defensive end Christian Thomas, receiver Markeith Ambles and corner Nickell Robey.
Robey had five tackles and a pass breakup.
-Kiffin said the Trojans did not sustain any major injuries against Hawaii.
-Cornerback Shareece Wright was attended to by trainers during the game, but said he only suffered cramps.
-Defensive end Nick Perry (ankle) did not play.
-USC and Hawaii combined for 1,112 yards of total offense and averaged nearly eight yards per play.
-USC has now won 13 consecutive season openers.