In their home opener against Washington State, the USC Trojans have come out with a wimper: USC and Wazzu have each failed to score in the opening quarter, leaving two goose eggs on the big board in the Coliseum.
Washington State opened with possession, but was quickly swept off the field thanks to a strong initial defensive effort led by the Trojan defensive line. Safety Demetrius Wright laid a big hit to prevent a third-and-short conversion, which brought about Cody Kessler taking the field with the Trojan offense. Aside from a first down pickup by running back Tre Madden, the Trojans couldn’t get anything going in the first drive of their home opener.
On their second drive, Connor Halliday and his Cougars displayed more signs of life against the Trojan defense, when Halliday hit Kristoph Williams on a third down that got converted into a 28-yard gain for the first down. The Cougars kept grinding into USC’s red zone, and the Trojans dodged a bullet when Lamar Dawson delivered a punishing hit on Halliday, and wide receiver River Cracaft dropped what would have been a wide open touchdown. On third down, Torin Harris picked off Halliday in the endzone, taking all of the wind out of the Cougar’s sails.
When the Trojans took over on downs, they moved down the field but got stalled near midfield. On a third and long, head coach Lane Kiffin drew up a bubble screen for Marqise Lee and when it failed, the Coliseum home crowd erupted in a smattering of boos.
It was a largly uneventful first quarter, but the Trojan defense shined, as expected. Wazzu is proving that they will not be pushovers this season, and they will keep the ball going into the second quarter.