The Trojans opened the first quarter against the Arizona Wildcats in a no-huddle offense and quickly got to work moving the ball on Arizona’s lackluster defense. QB Matt Barkley overthrew WR Marqise Lee on the first play from scrimmage and then RB Silas Redd got stonewalled on the second play, but Barkley connected with Lee on 3rd and 9, and the Trojans kept the ball after a third down for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
In seriousness, USC converted on its first three consecutive third downs, something worth noting because this team has been abismal at doing so all season.
The Trojans almost got out to an early lead when Silas Redd, in an incredible display of body awareness, rolled over a defender after a tackle but then got up and kept running 30 more yards to score a touchdown. His knee never touched the ground and knowing this, he played through the tackle. However upon further review it became evident that his shoulder touched the ground and so the TD was called back.
However after that, Barkley bafflingly threw three bad balls in a row, two of which should have been picked off but the third time would be the charm as Arizona took over at the 40-yard line after an Lee tipped an easily catchable ball and a Wildcat defender made the catch.
It should have been three and out for the Wildcats, but S T.J. McDonald got flagged for taunting, which kept the drive alive and allowed Arizona to go up 7-0 after having the ball for just 1:55. Matt Scott connected with WR Johnny Jackson from eight yards out for the score.
On the following kickoff, Marqise Lee sprinted near the midfield line where the Trojans started their second drive. Shockingly, the Trojans committed two back-to-back penalties–first Offensive Pass Interference and then Illegal Motion–that backed the Trojans up 20 yards. But then Barkley heaved a 57-yard pass to Lee for a Trojan first down. The Trojans would come up short though, electing to go for it on 4th and 2 near the 20-yard line only to have Barkley overthrow TE Xavier Grimble.
In two trips to the endzone, the Trojans have managed to leave points n the field both times. With the kind of offense Arizona has, that will surely mean trouble for USC as this game progresses.
On the Wildcats next drive, USC CB Torin Harris blew a tackle and gave up over 50 yards in the process. The Trojans got dinged for more penalty yards but redeemed themselves by keeping Zona out of the endzone and forcing a field goal kick. The Wildcats nailed it and extended their lead 10-0.
With 120 yards of offense and five penalties for 53 yards already, this is the exact opposite of the kind of start the Trojans wanted coming into this game.