USC conference call highlights: Oct. 27

Leonard Williams and the USC defense got after it once again, frustrating Utah quarterback Adam Schulz and holding the Utes to three points. The Trojans will face a tougher test at Oregon State though. AP Photo/Gus Ruelas

Some selected quotes from USC head coach Ed Orgeron’s Sunday night conference call following the Trojans’ 19-3 victory over Utah.

Orgeron on the performance of the USC defense versus Utah:

“Obviously, a solid performance. The key to the game was the turnovers -- four turnovers creating great field position for the offense … that enabled us to kick the field goals. The play of Josh Shaw at cornerback … Anthony Sarao played outstanding at linebacker. Leon McQuay made some big plays for us in his first start as a freshman. Dion Bailey coming back helped us out immensely. The play of the defensive line was excellent. Again, I want to point out the play of J.R. Tavai. He continues to be a playmaker. We thought Antwaun Woods came in and probably had his best game -- a sack, a batted ball on a couple of plays … he played outstanding.”

On the performance of the USC offense:

“On offense, the positives of the game … the play of [Cody Kessler], 21-of-32 for 230 yards. Again, protecting the ball in the run-game … no turnovers was the difference in the game -- 30 carries on the day, no balls on the ground. That’s 106 attempts in the last three games with no balls on the ground. We had a lot of different players making plays. Darreus Rogers had five catches, Nelson Agholor had six … De’Von Flournoy had two catches and Silas Redd had five catches.

We have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback. We need to improve on third-downs and red-zone efficiency.”

On the performance of USC’s special teams units:

“The play of Andre Heidari was excellent. We gave up too many yards on our punting unit, and we have to improve in that area.”

Orgeron on the status of some USC players who went out with injuries against the Utes:

“From the game, Shane Sullivan is out with a torn ACL, Kevin Graf is questionable with an ankle and Su’a [Cravens] is probable with a groin.”

On whether or not some of the other injured players might be available for the Trojans’ upcoming game against Oregon State on Friday:

“It’s early right now [and] we can’t say for sure who’s going to be back. Perhaps Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick will be back. Perhaps Xavier Grimble … we’re not sure yet.”

On the status of injured USC wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee):

“I know he has a doctor’s appointment during the week and they’re going to do an exam on him, so we don’t know anything new yet.”

On the play of the offensive line against Utah:

“Obviously we’ve struggled there in the last two games. We’ve made improvements on the penalties. With Kevin [Graf] going down, we had some guys play some new positions, and one of the biggest things was that we missed a lot of assignments. So, we’re going to have to be ready this week to practice the guys in the same position … clarify some things [and] simplify if we have to, because we’re going into a hostile environment, and it needs to be simplified so the guys can have their assignments down.”

On his first impression of Oregon State, and why he thinks that the Trojans have struggled to come away with victories in Reser Stadium as of late -- USC hasn’t defeated the Beavers in Corvallis, Ore., since 2004:

“That’s the first thing I thought about this morning … just remembering the times that we won, and the times that we didn’t win. It’s just a tough environment. Those players seem like they get up to play against us, and they do a good job. And Coach [Mike] Riley is a good coach. We have to give them credit.

What I’ve seen from Oregon State so far … they’re No. 1 in the Pac-12, I believe, in passing offense. No. 7 (Brandin Cooks) is a great player. They’re a draw and screen team … Coach Mike Riley is very efficient with his passing game … he knows where to attack you. They’re a very well-coached football team.”

On whether or not the USC secondary is a concern heading into a matchup with such an explosive passing offense:

“Well, we’re going to see Friday night. The guy who we feel played the best on Saturday was Demetrius Wright. After talking to Clancy [Pendergast], he had a pretty good game assignment-wise, and he was able to do the things that we needed him to do at safety, which enabled Josh [Shaw] to play corner. That was a big plus for us. Obviously these guys are going to test us. We’re going to have to get an outstanding pass rush. We won’t stop all of their throws, but if we can stop the deep ball, be very efficient in our pass defense and put pressure on the quarterback, we’re going to have success.”

On whether or not the practices this week will be lighter due to the large number of injuries, and because of the fact that the team will be playing one day earlier than usual:

“We obviously are one day shorter, so tomorrow we’re going to have a regular practice, Tuesday we’re going to combine the Tuesday and Wednesday practice … there will be very little hitting. Wednesday will be our Thursday practice, and Thursday we’ll travel. So, we’ll really have one heavy day of work, but we’ll do a lot of meeting work, a lot of walk-through work … a lot of preparation in that area. It’s that kind of a season where you can do that. There won’t be a lot of hitting and one-on-one stuff this week.”

On the less-than-stellar performance of the USC offense on third downs against Utah and this season, and what contributed to the team’s struggles in that area on Saturday -- the Trojans converted 3-of-15 third-down attempts against Utah and are 29 of 105 (28 percent) on the season:

“Well, one is protection. Obviously, we thought they would throw every defense in the book at us, and we weren’t able to pick them up. No. 2 is that the quarterback has to make better decisions. I talked to Clay [Helton] this morning, he didn’t think that we made the best decisions on third downs.”