See what happens when you name one guy to be your team’s starting quarterback?
After their humiliating loss to Washington State, USC’s Trojans were apparently determined to to put that setback behind them, starting with coach Lane Kiffin’s decision to commit to Cody Kessler as the man behind center.
It quickly became evident that the third-year sophomore from Bakersfield (CA) was galvanized by that, as he responded by having a most efficient day in completing 15 of his 17 throws for 237 yards and two touchdowns, one of them an 80-yard strike to Marqise Lee as ‘SC finally threw the ball downfield.
Add to that 102 yards rushing and two scores – one on the ground, one through the air – from Tre Madden, who marked his third straight game reaching the century mark, which matched the best start by a USC running back since Marcus Allen in 1981, plus another dominant performance by the Trojan defense in giving up just 184 total yards with 12 first downs, and…
That equals a solid 35-7 win over an overmatched Boston College squad before a less-than-spectactular crowd of 62,006 at the Coliseum, silencing the boos and “Fire Kiffin” chants that rained over them that previous week.
“Now is only the beginning,” Kessler said after the game. “I only hope (fans) stay with us. I’m excited to see where we can get.”
The fans in the Coliseum should have known that things would be different with their Trojans when Kessler threw deep to Lee on the game’s first snap, falling incomplete but drawing cheers from the USC faithful.
Kiffin refused to take credit for it, saying, “That was (USC President) Max Nikias’ play. He told me, just throw it deep and they’ll cheer, even if it’s incomplete…so I ran that play for President Nikias.”
I’m sure that USC’s chief executive appreciated it, as did the Trojan Family.
One concern for the Trojans on Saturday was their 100 yards worth of penalties, which included some personal fouls and an offside penalty which took a blocked punt by Leon McQuay III, who ran it in for a touchdown, off the board.
The Bottom Line: It was nice win for USC, who succeeded in getting that bad Washington State taste out of their mouths and improving their record to 2-1.
Things are undoubtedly looking up for these Men of Troy now that Kessler’s officially the heir to Matt Barkley at quarterback and he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder anymore.
The Trojan defense is playing lights out as well, ranking second in the nation in rushing defense with only 43.7 yards given up per game, eighth in scoring defense at ten points per contest, and fourth overall, giving up 212.3 yards a contest.
But you know what? Outside of Washington State, I don’t think ‘SC has really been tested yet; those tests, namely Notre Dame and their fellow Pac-12 Conference teams, will come soon.
Utah State Aggies (2-1)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 12:30 p.m.
TV: KABC Channel 7
A lot of folks are playing up the fact that these Aggies from Logan, Utah – located 80 miles north of Salt Lake City – is a pretty good team that can give the Trojans a challenge.
After all, this Mountain West Conference team won 11 games last season and boasts a quarterback in Chuckie Keeton who has already passed for 12 touchdowns in Utah State’s three games so far in 2013, which included throwing for a school-record five scores in the first half alone in their 70-6 romp over Weber State last week.
The thing is, though they are 2-1 with a 52-20 win over Air Force to go along with that 70-point shellacking, Utah State is, in my view, a decent team that falls into the category of “They don’t play anybody” in that as a mid-major program, they may do well with their usual competition in their conference but…
Let me put it another way:
USC is NOT Air Force. And they are DEFINITELY not Weber State.
That’s why, considering the kind of defense that ‘SC been showing to this point, I think that the Aggies will come out hard and give the Trojans a battle at the onset, but will soon realize that they are playing with the big boys, USC coming out with another relatively easy victory in the end.
We’ll see if I’m right this Saturday.