Stephen Carr bolted to the end zone in USC’s opening drive, giving the Trojans a 7-0 lead over Oregon State in the first quarter.
In USC’s first offensive drive with coach Clay Helton calling plays instead of offensive coordinator Tee Martin, the Trojans moved down the field through gradual gains over explosive plays. The greatest gain on the 86-yard drive was a 13-yard pass by JT Daniels to Amon-ra St. Brown.
Aca’Cedric Ware led the rushing effort, with 21 yards in three carries, while Daniels completed six of his nine passes for 43 yards. Half of those passes were caught by St. Brown, who leads USC receivers with 31 yards.
When things are going well for a college football program, its news value is contained to what happens on Saturdays. Even after a loss, the three or four plays that cost the team a game are dissected to a fine level until the attention naturally turns to the next weekend’s chance at swift redemption.
In the days that passed after N’Keal Harry’s 92-yard punt return sent USC to its fourth loss of the season, though, the Trojans fell into uncomfortable territory. Something had to change. Clay Helton could not deny it to himself anymore. That meant that his program spent a week being talked about for all the wrong reasons.
The fodder out of USC was juicy enough to break through the noise of a city reeling from Dodgers heartbreak and an uneasy start to a Lakers season that seemed destined for more. The uber-loyal Helton fired his offensive line coach, Neil Callaway, a man who is like family. He took over play-calling duties from his “right-hand man,” offensive coordinator Tee Martin.