USC Football is wildly different in third quarter under Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans
Lincoln Riley, USC Football, USC Trojans / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

USC Football oftentimes really struggled in the third quarter on offense when Graham Harrell was the offensive coordinator. That has completely flipped under Lincoln Riley as the head coach, and essentially offensive coordinator. SC has outscored their opponents 55-7 in the third quarter through five weeks this year:

Reign of Troy's own Michael Castillo did some digging, and found just how different it's truly been with the new coaching staff in place. He found that it took over twice the amount of Clay Helton-Graham Harrell coached games to find 55 third quarter points. The Helton-Harrell combo scored 55 third-quarter points in 11 games. Riley has already done it in five:

In just Riley's first game with the Trojans, he picked up 28(!) points in the third quarter versus Rice. He had seven third quarter points in Saturday's win against Arizona State. SC's defense also shut out both teams in those weeks during the third quarter. It's important to give the defense their flowers too, as they have only allowed seven third quarter points through these five contests so far.

USC Football always seems to make good second-half adjustments.

USC Football outscores their opponents in the first two quarters of games this season, 111-62. That's of course a great margin, and just one point higher than SC's 55-7 third quarter margin. It just goes to show that SC really doesn't take their feet off the gas in the first half. And they would potentially have reason to, as they clearly get off to hot first half starts.

To prove it even further, USC has outscored their opponents 100-38 in second halves as a whole. So they actually have been even better in second halves overall, and not just in third quarters. Clearly, Riley, Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch, and really the whole staff know how to adjust as they come out for the second half.

It's refreshing, as this was one of the biggest criticisms of the coaching staffs under Clay Helton. The inability to adjust resulted in many games lost that really should have been won during Helton's tenure. The exact same was true of Steve Sarkisian's tenure as head coach at USC. Things truly have been wildly different under Riley and his staff.

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USC stays home this week to play 4-1 Washington State on Saturday, in efforts to improve to 5-0. They are ranked No. 6 in the country, as they look to potentially be ahead of schedule in terms of how quickly they can return to college football dominance under Riley.