The USC Trojans lead the Arizona Wildcats 14-0 after the first quarter.
In front of a light, casually-late Los Angeles home crowd on Thursday night, the Coach Ed Orgeron Era began for USC when the Trojans hosted the Arizona Wildcats. With no expectations laid before him, Orgeron entered the game just wanting to have fun. He’d set a good tone for USC in his week and a half as interim head coach, and the time had finally come for him to do something with it.
Despite all that positive energy, the Trojans went three-and-out in their first offensive series of the game. But there was one bright spot: redshirt sophomore Victor Blackwell got the start at wide receiver in place of the injured Marqise Lee (knee), and recorded his first catch in a career start, for five yards.
On its first drive, Arizona got briskly swept of the field in three tries as well, capped when B.J. Denker walked right into J.R. Tarvai–starting overMorgan Breslin (hip)–for the sack.
USC picked things up on its second drive, however. Cody Kessler dropped back on the first play and heaved a 62-yard bomb to Nelson Agholor, who handled the catch and trotted into the endzone for the score. The home crowd erupted into raucous cheers, and the Trojans took a 7-0 lead.
Arizona seemed to respond fairly well, executing a 11-play, 56-yard drive that got them within USC’s 30 yard line, but a well-timed sack by outside linebacker Devon Kennard and a shanked 38-yard field goal attempt kept the Wildcats out of the endzone.
Keep their momentum, the Trojan offense took to the field again. After grinding out a few first downs on the ground, the Trojans got vintage and ran an inside wheel route to Madden. He shook a defender and darted to the endzone, for a 63-yard touchdown pass to put USC up 14-0 over the Wildcats.
With just under five minutes to go in the first quarter, Kessler was already five of 6 for 141 yards and two touchdowns. For a team looking to rebound, this is exactly the kind of start the Trojans wanted to have.
On Arizona’s next drive, an ill-timed fumble almost proved costly: Denker fumbled the handoff deep in his own territory, but fell on the ball before cardinal and gold jerseys swarmed him. As the quarter wound down, the Wildcats seemed to be building a drive, with a big pass over the middle for a first down and more breathing room.
After one quarter, the Trojans are playing exactly how they wanted to after a bye, and a coaching change: they’re loose, they’re getting creative and most importantly, they’re having fun.