Shane Foley’s USC-Stanford Preview

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Former USC Quarterback (1986-1990) Shane Foley reviews the Trojans’ week 1 romp over Fresno State for keys to beating Stanford in their Pac-12 opener.

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Kickoff for the Trojans last Saturday at 4:30 PM could not come quickly enough. USC had endured endless chatter during game week with the Josh Shaw fallout, the outlandish Anthony Brown accusation and the ensuing piling-on by ESPN reporters who called the school a “clown college.”

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USC would not succumb to the negativity and naysayers. Curiosity surrounded the new tempo offense that Coach Sarkisian was introducing for the first time in school history. The first drive offered the promise of things to come. Cody Kessler shook off a dangerous first pass to lead the Trojans on a 17-play, 90-yard drive that culminated with his 1-yard run to put the Trojans up 7-0. The drive included three clutch third-down completions to Darreus Rogers to keep the drive alive. Kessler drilled two touchdown passes to Nelson Agholor to put the Trojans up 21-0.

After an Andre Heidari field goal, Fresno State mounted a 75-yard touchdown drive behind quarterback Brandon Connette to cut the lead to 24-7. After three consecutive drives with turnovers, two fumbles by the Trojan running backs and an interception by USC safety Gerald Bowman, Cody Kessler hit true freshman Adoree Jackson in between defenders for his first touchdown as a Trojan.

USC led 31-7 at the half after Leonard Williams picked off a pass which led to a Heidari missed field goal. On the first drive of the 2nd half, the Bulldogs ran through a poor tackling Trojan defense for a touchdown but missed the extra point, which cut the lead to 31-13. The Trojans answered with a 10-play, 85-yard drive of their own that ended with Buck Allen’s nifty nine-yard run into the end zone to go up 38-13. With a defender in his face, Kessler threw his fourth touchdown of the day to true freshman tight end Bryce Dixon for a 45-13 lead. All-purpose tank Soma Vainuku rumbled for an 11-yard touchdown run of his own, giving USC a 52-13 lead to end the third quarter.

The second team players got an entire quarter of valuable playing time with quarterback Max Browne and running back James Toland leading the way. Linebacker Michael Hutchings ended the evening with an interception and the Trojans finished a resounding 52-13 opening win.