Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
The USC Trojans were defeated by the Washington State Cougars 10-7, due to another poor offensive performance.
Cody Kessler earned his second career start, if you want to call it that, and while the Trojan offense came out with more variety in their offensive formations, it was all for not as screen passes were heavily relied on despite their ineffectiveness.
The Trojan offense once again got off to a slow start, only able to generate 34 yards on 10 total plays in the first quarter, and only 73 yards in the first half, compacted by going 0-for-6 on third down conversions.
The most encouraging offensive play in the first half was Tre Madden taking a direct snap in the wildcat formation, converting on fourth down and one.
Madden was the sole contributor on a struggling offense, putting together another impressive performance tallying 150 yards on the ground and at one point he accounted for 156 yards of the Trojans’ 185 yards.
Similar to the strategy used in the victory over Hawaii, Max Wittek made his first appearance in the second half of the game. However, once again, the change of quarterback didn’t come with any improvements.
Wittek failed to complete a pass in his first series, had a poorly thrown ball, which was intercepted, but luckily nulififed by a Cougar pass interference penalty.
Wittek ultimately sealed the Trojans’ fate with an interception with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
The wide receivers struggled to break loose and the widely regarded NFL-caliber tight ends were not given the opportunity to pick up the slack, accounting for only one reception.
The normally reliant special teams also had a poor game, with one Andre Heidari field goal attempt blocked and another missed.
The Trojan defense was very much bend but don’t break for the majority of the game, coming up with crucial sacks and interceptions, before finally bending just enough to allow the Cougars to take the game-winning lead late in the fourth quarter.
Lane Kiffin has believed he has the luxury of two quarterbacks to choose from, but it has become painfully evident he doesn’t even have one.