USC Gets First Pac-12 Win in 38-31 Victory Over Arizona
USC secured their first Pac-12 win of the season defeating the Arizona Wildcats 38-31 Thursday night. All eyes were on coach Ed Orgeron who made his debut as USC's interim head coach. Leading up to the game, Orgeron stressed the importance of bringing back fun to the team.
"I had a blast...I'm not a happy guy, but today I was happy," said Orgeron with a laugh, "I just had a feeling of happiness being able to represent USC."
Despite not having wide receiver Marqise Lee in the lineup, the Trojans were able to convert on big plays. USC quarterback Cody Kessler threw for 297 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kessler showed extreme confidence throwing the ball deep down the field. One of his biggest plays came early in the first quarter when he connected with WR Nelson Agholor for a 62-yard touchdown. He then followed up with a 63-yard touchdown pass to running back Tre Madden.
Kessler also made his presence known on the ground rushing for a season long 34-yards. That was the longest run for a USC quarterback since Carson Palmer in 2001.
"I took off, I'm actually a little disappointed because I thought [the defender] was closer. I didn't want him to punch the ball out so I ran out of bounds trying to protect the ball," said Kessler.
USC running back Silas Redd also made his debut on Thursday ending the night leading all rushers. Redd rushed for 80-yards, including a crucial first down to seal the Trojans victory.
"It was a great feeling. You know we really wanted that win for Coach O," said outside linebacker Devon Kennard. "We had fun out there and we brought the fun back to the game."
Unfortunately, the team struggled in the second half and were outscored 21-10. The Trojans secondary struggled giving up multiple big plays that allowed Arizona to remain in the game. Still the team is certain they will make the necessary adjustments before going on the road to take on Notre Dame.
"We're not worried, but we definitely need to get it fixed," said Kennard. "We can't have second half's like that where we let teams score points and make the game close, so we got to change that."
Players seem motivated and optimistic as they look forward to the remaining seven games of the season. The team underwent dramatic changes, but have embraced Orgeron as their head coach. Following their victory players have only continued to praise the way that Orgeron has turned around the team.
"I don't only speak for myself I speak for the whole team that we would go to war for this guy any day of the week. Anytime he needs us we have his back 100%," said Kessler. "I couldn't ask for a better head coach."
The Trojans improve to 4-2 on the season 1-2 in the Pac-12, and will go on the road to face Notre Dame on Oct. 19.