LOS ANGELES -- Notes, quotes, and anecdotes from the Coliseum after the Trojans (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) beat Arizona (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12)
USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron comments:
“I am really proud of our team, the way they came out. They came out and started fast, and I am really proud of the coaching staff and leadership of our team. The locker room was very happy and excited. I am happy with the overall effort of our team.”
The offensive line: “We started challenging the offensive line two weeks ago to be nasty and physical. That was critical for us in the end. Marcus Allen came by and talked about what it means to be on the (USC) offensive line.”
On the poor secondary play: “There were some concerns, seems like some easy drives there where we did not play very well. I’ll talk with Clancy [Pendergast] and make some changes in personnel if we have to.”
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez comments:
“They probably threw a little more early (than they had been). And with (Marqise) Lee out we knew No. 15 (Nelson Agholor) would be the guy. He was targeted a bunch of times and they executed well. But some were too easy. Guys were running wide open and that shouldn’t happen.”
Feeling empathy: “And give Lane Kiffin credit. Lane recruited those guys and they’re talented and they played hard.”
More notes and anecdotes
Key(s) to victory: The Trojans struck early and often in the first quarter with two long touchdown strikes from quarterback Cody Kessler to wide receiver Nelson Agholor (62 yards) and tailback Tre Madden (63 yards), pacing them to a tough 38-31 victory.
Helton compliments: Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler said, “I spend so much time with (offensive coordinator and quarterback coach) Coach Helton. Overall I love the game that Coach Helton called. It allowed us to play fast without a lot of shifts and motion.”
Defending the rush: Prior to the Arizona game, the Trojans defense was allowing a net total of 190.6 yards rushing per game. Against the Wildcats, the Trojans allowed 145 yards rushing.
Being consistent: Evaluating his team’s defense, sophomore defensive tackle Leonard Williams said, “We came out playing great defense, but we didn’t finish. We have to play harder at the end.”
Offensively better: Prior to the Arizona game, the Trojans were averaging 380.4 yards per game in total offense. Against the Wildcats, the Trojans had 546 total yards on offense with 297 coming through the air.
Sam Bam: Trojans tailback Buck Allen gave his best legendary Sam Cunningham goal line over-the-top impression on his 1-yard TD plunge. Allen said, “I’ve never done that before in my life. I know who Sam Cunningham is, but it wasn’t planned.”
Rush to dominance: Prior to the Arizona game, the Trojans were averaging 190.6 yards per game rushing. Against the Wildcats, the Trojans rushed for 249 net yards.
Silas is back: Senior tailback Silas Redd, who carried the ball 19 times for a team-high 80 yards, was used more than planned. Quarterback Cody Kessler said, “It was great to have him on the field. He is always the guy in the locker room getting the team pumped up. He is definitely a guy I want to model after.”
The defensive scoring average: The Trojans defense allowed 31 points to Arizona. Prior to the Wildcats game, the Trojans were allowing 21.2 points per game.
Defensively speaking: Defensive end Devon Kennard said, ”We have to play better in the second half. We got lulled to sleep. If they’re passing on us the D-line is not pressuring the quarterback enough and if the secondary is getting beat, they’re not covering enough. We have to fix it. This is the second game in a row this has happened.”
Prior to the Arizona game, the Trojans were allowing an average of 306.8 total yards on defense. Arizona put up 508 total yards, with 363 coming through the air.
The infirmary: Madden, who suffered a hamstring issue during practice this past week tweaked again and left the game in the third quarter. He said he’d be ready for Notre Dame.
Taking responsibility: On giving up a late second quarter touchdown, Trojans safety Dion Bailey took full accountability and said, “When I saw the ball going long, I should have looked back. The ball was long, the receiver adjusted, and I didn’t.”
Top tacklers: The Trojans defense was led by defensive tackle Leonard Williams with 12 tackles followed by hybrid linebacker/defensive lineman J.R. Tavai and inside linebacker Hayes Pullard with 10 tackles each.
Tunnel vision: Former Trojans All-America wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, wearing a San Francisco 49ers Ronnie Lott jersey, led the Trojans out of the tunnel prior to kickoff.
Modesty: On his team-high seven receptions, Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor (161 yards and one touchdown) said, “I just want to do what the team wants me to do to win. If I was able to catch three passes, seven passes, it doesn’t matter.”
The evening turnstile: Coliseum attendance for Thursday night’s game was announced as 64,215. Coliseum capacity is listed at 93,607.
Still getting better: Prior to the Arizona game, the Trojans were averaging 61.2 penalty yards per game. Against the Wildcats, the Trojans were penalized seven times for 50 yards.
Getting down: The Trojans were 6 of 13 in third down conversions.
Scouting the talent: NFL scouts in attendance included the Chargers, Cardinals, Jets, Colts, Bengals, and Patriots.
Next Game: The Trojans travel to Notre Dame to face the Irish on Saturday, Oct. 19, in Notre Dame Stadium (7:30 ET).