The Ed Orgeron (interim) era got off to a bright start at the Coliseum last night with a 38-31 win over the Arizona Wildcats. It was a nail-biter of a blow out and there was no shortage of bright spots and head scratchers. Here are the studs and duds of the evening.
Stud: Coach O
The Trojans interim head coach came away from his first game in charge with a win, but it was more than that. It was the Gatorade shower when the win was sealed. It was the way his players mobbed him for a hug. It was the way he cheered with the fans on his way through the tunnel. Coach O has brought much needed passion to USC and the players and the fans have responded.
Dud: Lane Kiffin
Not to pile on the deposed head coach, but the response of the Trojans to Coach O’s leadership exposed all the deficiencies in Kiffin’s. Cody Kessler’s quote after the game says it all, “No disrespect to the coach who was here before, but you want a coach that you would go to war for every time. And this guy here to my right, and I don’t just speak for myself, we would go to war for him.”
Stud: Nelson Agholor
In the absence of super-stud wide out Marqise Lee, the responsibility of carrying the passing game fell to Nelson Agholor. He made the most of that opportunity with seven catches for 161 yards. His first quarter 62-yard touchdown reception got the scoring started and the Coliseum rocking.
As he scampered towards the endzone, however, Agholor bobbled that TD catch dangerously before finally securing it and the score. Those bobbles became a problem, not just for Agholor, but for nearly all the receivers, as several other drops plagued the Trojans.
Stud: Silas Redd
The Trojans knew Redd’s return was important, but it turned out to be even bigger than expected as Tre Madden tweaked his hamstring and was held out as a precaution. Like any great closer in baseball, Redd turned up the intensity on the final, time-killing drive rushing for 43 of his 82 yards as the Trojans closed out the win.
Dud: Fourth quarter defense
That final drive was only necessary because the USC defense let up big time in the fourth quarter. First, they let Arizona complete a 17-play, 96-yard drive during which B.J. Denker found his rhythm. The Wildcats followed that up with a quick strike touchdown to pull within seven. The game should have been a comfortable victory. Instead, Arizona came dangerously close to forcing overtime.
Who were your studs and duds? Sound off in the comments below.