SAN FRANCISCO -- As USC running back George Farmer corralled his first career pass from Matt Barkley in the first quarter of the Trojans' 30-9 win over Cal on Thursday, he looked upfield down the left sideline from the USC 20-yard line and realized he had a lot of room to roam.
Running from the flat, all he had to do was make one tackler miss down the left sideline and he was likely gone for six -- a touchdown on only his second career touch.
And then, just as he turned the corner and turned on the jets, he fell, pulled down by Cal safety Sean Cattouse. And that ended those thoughts quickly.
"Man, all I saw was green grass," Farmer said after the game, recounting the sequence on the field. "And then I felt my foot get tipped and my feet got tangled up and I fell.
"I was really mad."
Farmer, a highly-touted prep receiver-turned-tailback who was the subject of much intrigue leading up to Thursday's game, finished the contest with just 18 total yards -- 14 on that catch and a total of four on his four carries. He also fumbled the ball late in the game near midfield, so he had even more reason to be mad.
Cal freshman cornerback Stefan McClure forced the fumble on Farmer's second carry of what was supposed to be USC's final drive. As long as he kept getting steady gains, Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin intended to keep giving him the ball.
Of course, that plan went awry as well.
We were hoping to get up a few scores so we could really (get him some carries)," Kiffin said afterward. "He really just hasn't carried the ball in games. And it went perfect, really, to let him run there in the fourth quarter and get a couple series, but he unfortunately put the ball on the ground.
"That happens. That happens with freshmen and that was our concern. It's always a concern with true freshmen."
Farmer, 18, said he was going to take the play -- and the game -- as a learning experience.
"It is (one)," he said. "You're gonna hit a wall of adversity, so it's all about the way you overcome it. Now, in practice I'm gonna be working on nothing but keeping balls high and tight and ball security."
Farmer also got the ball on USC's second play from scrimmage of the night, at the Cal 6-yard line, and was stuffed behind the line for a four-yard loss right away. He said that play temporarily made him feel like "everything was my fault," but eventually got over it -- until the fumble, which made him "mind-jumbled," he said.
"But I can't look back at it," Farmer said. "I'm going to keep pushing forward."