With Ed Orgeron at the helm for the first time after Lane Kiffin’s firing, USC jumped out to a big lead against Arizona before allowing a late comeback attempt from the Wildcats. The Trojans held on for the victory, 38-31.
Here’s how the box score shaped up.
|NET YARDS RUSHING||145||249|
|Average Per Rush||4.4||5.5|
|NET YARDS PASSING||363||297|
|Average Per Completion||13.0||19.8|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||508||546|
|Total offense plays||77||75|
|Average Gain Per Play||6.6||7.3|
|Third-Down Conversions||8 of 17||6 of 13|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||0 of 0||0 of 0|
The Trojans held the advantage in first downs, and in a big twist, were more often the beneficiaries of penalties even though the Wildcats came into this game as one of the least penalized teams in the nation. USC greatly improved their third down conversion percentage in this game, picking up extra downs nearly half of the time. Also a noticeable change from Lane Kiffin to Clay Helton, USC ran the most offensive plays of the season, running 70 or more for the first time since the season opener.
From a defensive perspective, Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey became the first opposing running back to log more than 100 yards against the stout Trojan rushing defense. The Wildcats still trailed well behind the Trojans in total rushing yards however. Arizona did best USC in passing yards, the bulk of those coming late as they made their late comeback push.
Return of the Stable
With the return of Silas Redd and the precautionary limits to Tre Madden, Clay Helton turned to the stable of running backs. Buck Allen saw noticeably more time, especially on the goal line which resulted in two rushing touchdowns. Justin Davis and Ty Isaac also contributed, though it was Redd who saw the bulk of the carries in Madden’s absence and Redd who was called upon to close out the game, earning nearly half of his yards on the final drive.
Kessler Has An Arm
Cody Kessler threw for a career-best 297 yards, including long completions to Nelson Agholor and Madden. Those two touchdowns were his second and third longest passes of the year. However, his second half numbers hurt his completion percentage as he hit just one of four passes in the fourth quarter for three yards.
Agholor stepped into Marqise Lee’s shoes admirably against the Wildcats with season-highs in receptions and yards. He also caught his first touchdown pass of the season. The only other receiver to catch a pass also happened to be the only other healthy scholarship receiver on the roster — Victor Blackwell. Tight ends Randall Telfer, Xavier Grimble and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick saw noticeably more time in the passing game, though some drops and some missed throws limited their impact. Tre Madden’s single catch proved highlight worthy as he continues to be a real target for Kessler.
Albarado Approaches Beast Mode
Kris Albarado’s pooch punting has been nothing short of magnificent this season and Thursday night’s game was no exception. Four of his six punts landed inside the 20. Two of those were downed inside the five.
Tavai Flies High
J.R. Tavai filled in for the injuried Morgan Breslin with surprising ease. Given Breslin’s importance as an impact player, Tavai more than made up for his absence by harrying Arizona’s B.J. Denker in the pass rush and logging a team-best 3.5 tackles for loss. Leonard Williams continued his dominant season by leading the Trojans in tackles.