And Caesar’s spirit, raging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.
- Marc Antony, William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”
Cody Kessler sat at the table, grass stains on his shirt, hair matted with sweat, eye black smeared across his cheeks like paint on the warriors of old, and he said the words that could define USC’s season from this point on.
“You want a coach that you will freaking just go to war for every time. This man here to my right — I don’t only speak for myself, I speak for the whole team — we would go to war for this guy any day of the week,” Kessler said. “All of us would go to war and put our lives on the line for this man any day of the week.”
Those are strong words from a quarterback who finally looks comfortable in the large shoes left by his predecessors. They’re important words too, because it’s about time for USC to live up to their namesake. It’s time for the Trojans to go to war.
Under Lane Kiffin, the game of football became too much about business. Too sober, too analytic, too serious. Under Ed Orgeron, the shackles have been taken off and the results, though early doors, have already shown up in a big way. There’s a fire there now and that fire can light the way as USC runs headlong at the opposing hordes.
Notre Dame. Utah. Oregon State. Cal. Stanford. Colorado. UCLA. That’s seven games, seven battles for Kessler and the Trojans to prove that their actions match their words. Three of those games are rivalry games. All three are also revenge games.
Right now, other teams don’t fear USC. Go into South Bend and knock off Notre Dame, whose only two losses came to ranked teams, and it’ll get people talking. Build up a head of steam against Utah, Oregon State and Cal going into the Stanford game and the Pac-12 landscape could get downright chaotic. Stun Stanford? Ruin the Bruins? Why not?
Scholarship limitations put the Trojans at a disadvantage, as shown by the visibly gassed defense against Arizona late, but they can make up for those numbers with sheer guts. Play with more passion than your opponents, from starters to scout team, and chances are you’ll come away victorious.
It starts with the Irish on Saturday. The same Irish who came into the Coliseum last season and beat the Matt Barkley-less Trojans. USC had multiple opportunities to take control of that game against the #1 team in the country, but an abysmal goal line performance spoiled the upset bid. The Trojans were in the midst of the 1-5 skid during which it appeared Kiffin lost the team.
Orgeron has the team. He has them revved up, chomping at the bit, and ready to go to war. That’s exactly where they need to be.