USC bounces back with easy win over Utah State, 45-7
It wasn’t exactly pretty, and it certainly wasn’t loud, but USC’s football team got in the win column with a 45-7 trouncing of Utah State at the Coliseum on Saturday.
The Trojans were coming off a 52-6 loss last week to top-ranked Alabama, and they stumbled early, as USC left tackle Chuma Edoga was ejected for making contact with a referee at the end of the Trojans’ first drive.
But USC (1-1) quickly restored order when Michael Pittman Jr. blocked a punt and Max Browne found JuJu Smith-Schuster for a three-yard touchdown three plays later.
That was USC’s first touchdown of the season, coming after 63 minutes, 10 seconds of game action. From there, the Trojans relied on short passes, timely runs and a stingy defense to methodically bury the lesser-talented Aggies.
Browne finished having completed 23 of 30 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception. Backup quarterback Sam Darnold also passed for two touchdowns — one when he came in early in the game with USC in the red zone, and another after the outcome was well in hand.
Trojans receiver Darreus Rogers caught a career-high seven passes for 82 yards and provided a consistent option as the Aggies keyed on Smith-Schuster throughout the game.
Smith-Schuster finished with seven catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which came on a 15-yard pass from Darnold in the fourth quarter.
Utah State (1-1) could barely move the ball. The rushing attack that gained 428 yards against Weber State last week was smothered by USC’s front, and Aggies quarterback Kent Myers had a pass intercepted by Leon McQuay III right before USC’s third touchdown.
Utah State finished with 253 total yards to the Trojans’ 422, and the Aggies didn’t get on the board until the last play of the third quarter.
With USC leading 24-0 as the end of the third quarter neared, Adoree’ Jackson scooped up a bouncing punt around Utah State’s 20-yard line and looked upfield.
As Jackson snaked through the Aggies’ punt-return unit — white shirts flying at him before falling at his feet — two conclusions could be drawn: Jackson was bound for the end zone, and the Trojans were undoubtedly going to win.
Jackson crossed the goal line seconds later, completing a 77-yard play, and USC stretched its lead to 31 points.
USC’s final touchdown, with 2 minutes 44 seconds left in the game, came on a two-yard run by Aca’Cedric Ware.
Is this still called a ‘crowd’?
USC leads Utah State, 38-7, as Smith-Schuster scores again
JuJu Smith-Schuster was nearly silent against Alabama last week, but now has two touchdowns in USC’s rout of Utah State.
The latest came on a 15-yard pass from backup quarterback Sam Darnold with 9 minutes 45 seconds remaining in the game.
Smith-Schuster has seven catches for 56 yards. Darreus Rogers leads all receivers with seven catches for 82 yards.
Darnold has completed four of six passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns.
Here’s what the Darnold-to-Smith touchdown looked like:
No shutout for USC; Utah State is on the board
Utah State scored on the last play of the third quarter after a 12-play drive culminated by a six-yard pass from Kent Myers to Wyatt Houston.
USC still leads the Aggies, 31-7, as the fourth quarter starts. The Trojans’ last shutout was a 50-0 win over UCLA on Nov. 26, 2011.
Jackson supplies early dagger for USC; his punt return puts Trojans up, 31-0
Adoree Jackson scooped up a punt at Utah State’s 23-yard line. The next time he was touched, he was while he was celebrating with teammates in the end zone.
Jackson — the USC cornerback who moonlights on offense and is a feared return man — snaked through the Aggies’ punt-return unit on his way to a 77-yard touchdown.
The play pretty much sealed the game for USC with 3:49 left in the third quarter.
It was also the third punt-return touchdown of Jackson’s career.
Here’s how it looked on TV:
USC tacks on a field goal for 24-0 lead over Utah State
USC drained some time off the clock with a 14-play drive spanning 5 minutes and 20 seconds on its first possession of the second half, and it resulted in a 20-yard field goal from Matt Boermeester.
The Trojans have 323 total yards to the Aggies’ 118.
Backup quarterback Sam Darnold came in for the second time as USC entered the red zone, but this time he wasn’t able to get a touchdown, leaving it to Boermeester to stretch the Trojans’ lead.
Coliseum turning into Mr. Rogers neighborhood
With JuJu Smith-Schuster drawing extra attention from the Utah State secondary — an approach Alabama used to hold the star wideout to one catch last week — USC’s Darreus Rogers is putting together an impressive game.
Rogers caught a career-high seventh pass on the Trojans’ first drive of the second half, and has created separation all game. Max Browne has frequently found Rogers on short button-hook routes or screens, and Rogers then has been able to pick up extra yardage.
As USC moves down the field looking to build on its 21-0 lead, Rogers has picked up two first downs on the drive and 82 receiving yards in the game.
As for Smith, he has a touchdown pass. And this:
Second half underway at Coliseum, and this kind of thing is unlikely to happen
USC leads Utah State, 21-0: Halftime stats
USC quarterback Max Browne completed 18 of 24 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in the first half.
Backup quarterback Sam Darnold came on for one play and threw a 13-yard touchdown on a screen to Deontay Burnett.
Utah State quarterback Kent Myers has been as efficient as Browne but not nearly as effective. He’s completed eight of 12 passes for 58 yards with an interception -- which came one play after Browne threw a pass into double coverage that resulted in his interception.
Justin Davis leads USC’s rushing attack with 51 yards in 11 carries. Utah State’s Devante Mays, who ran all over Weber State last week, has just 19 yards in seven carries.
USC receiver Darreus Rodgers has a game-high 59 yards in five catches, while JuJu Smith-Schuster has five catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.
Rayshad Lewis leads the Aggies with two receptions for 22 yards. He is the only Utah State player with more than one catch.
Bored at halftime? Tune in to this
USC pushes lead to 21-0 just before halftime
A two-yard touchdown pass from Max Browne to Steven Mitchell Jr. 19 seconds before halftime has put USC up on Utah State, 21-0.
The touchdown came after a few shaky decisions by Browne, who nearly threw his second interception on as many drives while trying to fit a pass into a shrinking window.
Then Browne fumbled a snap and shoveled a pass to Deontay Burnett, who ran the ball to the two-yard line and set up the touchdown.
Browne has completed 18 of 24 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Here’s how that most recent touchdown looked:
Trade of picks
Max Browne rolled to his right and spotted Deontay Burnett on the sideline.
Burnett was blanketed by two Utah State defenders, but Browne threw a pass toward him anyway. The floater was intercepted by Jontrell Rocquemore, but the mistake wouldn’t sting for too long.
One play later, Aggies quarterback Kent Myers gift-wrapped an interception to USC safety Leon McQuay III.
Which led to this:
USC has Utah State running game ground to a halt
When Utah State is finding success on offense, its running game is usually the reason.
That’s why the Aggies trail USC, 14-0, as halftime nears at the Coliseum.
Utah State has rushed for just 25 yards on 11 carries, a 2.3-yard average. In its lopsided win over Weber State last week, the Aggies finished with 428 yards rushing, 9.7 yards per carry.
But the Trojans’ defense is a bit more athletic than Weber State’s, which has been evident in Saturday’s first half. And because Utah State can’t move the ball on first and second down, the Trojans’ secondary has pressed up on the Aggies’ passing attack that has mostly been screens and short slants.
Here’s one for the Darnold collection:
Sam Darnold is in for one play and it’s a USC touchdown; 14-0 Trojans
After subbing in for Max Browne with USC in the red zone, quarterback Sam Darnold threw a screen pass to Deontay Burnett and Burnett took it 13 yards for a touchdown.
Burnett was initially ruled a few yards shy of the goal line, but the Trojans were awarded a touchdown after a review.
USC now leads Utah State, 14-0, with eight minutes left in the first half.
Darnold, who lost out on the starting quarterback spot after battling with Browne throughout training camp, is more mobile than Browne and a good fit for red-zone and short-yardage situations.
Trojans Coach Clay Helton said during the week that he could turn to Darnold in the red zone. And he did.
Sam ‘Red Zone’ Darnold in at quarterback for USC
USC, Browne, shorten it up and get moving
After not finding much traction on offense in the first quarter, USC turned to short, quick passes to spur movement at the start of the second.
Max Browne used a seven-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster to get the drive going, and then used a five-yard screen to Darreus Rodgers to pick up a first down.
Then, after two more short gains, Browne found Rodgers on a seven-yard button-hook route before the receiver broke a tackle and ran 22 yards into Aggies’ territory.
The Trojans aren’t asking Browne and his wide receivers to do too much, and that’s helping turn the offense around in the early going.
Not a bad idea ...
USC leads Utah State, 7-0, after one quarter
USC had a chance to add to its one-touchdown lead toward the end of the first quarter, but Matt Boermeester pushed a 46-yard field-goal attempt wide right.
The Aggies also missed a field goal in the early going and are looking to drive on as the second quarter begins.
USC will be without starting left tackle Chuma Edoga for the rest of the game after he was ejected for making contact with a referee at the end of the Trojans’ first drive.
USC’s slim lead is courtesy of a 3-yard touchdown pass from Max Browne to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Other than that, the Trojans’ offense has been spotty on both rushing and passing.
Between quarters, USC honored late broadcaster Tom Kelly, who died of cancer in June at 88. The video board featured some of Kelly’s most famous calls, and Kelly’s family was recognized on the Coliseum field.
Utah State cornerback taken off on stretcher
Utah State cornerback Daniel Gray is being taken off the field on a stretcher.
Gray blitzed on a bubble screen to Steven Mitchell Jr. and made the tackle but hit Mitchell awkwardly before falling to the turf.
Medical personnel put him on a backboard to stabilize his neck before loading him onto the stretcher.
Players from both teams came over to say words as he was being wheeled off, and Gray gave a thumbs-up.
USC gets first touchdown of the season
It may have taken 63 minutes and 10 seconds of game time — and come after two player ejections — but USC finally scored its first touchdown of the season to take a 7-0 lead over Utah State.
The score came on a 3-yard pass from Max Browne to top option JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was blanketed by Alabama last week and finished just one reception.
The Trojans only had to go six yards to find the end zone after Michael Pittman blocked a punt.
Here’s how it looked:
Here’s the reason for Chuma Edoga’s ejection from the USC game
Starting left tackle Chuma Edoga is ejected
Chuma Edoga, USC’s starting left tackle, was ejected at the end of the Trojans’ first drive after making contact with a referee.
It is the second straight game a USC player has been ejected, after defensive end Jabari Ruffin stomping on an Alabama player’s groin last week. Ruffin is suspended for the first half of the Utah State game.
Edoga’s ejection came less than two minutes into the game after Utah State sacked USC quarterback Max Browne to force a punt. Chad Wheeler, who has been slowed by plantar fasciitis and played sparingly against the Crimson Tide last week, will presumably step in and be expected to take on a starter’s snap load.
USC has had problems in run-up to Utah State game
We’re just a few minutes shy of kickoff in USC’s home opener against Utah State
Everything has gone south for USC since the ball was kicked off against Alabama last week, and that isn’t limited to the Trojans’ 52-6 loss to the Crimson Tide.
The buildup to this game has been filled with unwanted surprises, and the kind of off-field incidents the program seemed to be free of at the start of the Clay Helton era.
USC defensive end Jabari Ruffin was suspended for the first half of Saturday’s game after stomping on an Alabama player’s groin last week, and was asked to write a letter of apology.
The Trojans lost starting center Toa Lobendahn to a season-ending knee injury. They watched Steve Sarkisian, who was fired by USC last season for erratic behavior and alcohol-related issues and later sued the school, join the Alabama coaching staff as an offensive analyst. On Tuesday, star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster started a fight, stomped off the field and had to be convinced to come back on.
Off the field, USC linebackers Osa Masina and Don Hill remain under investigation for sexual assault. Both players have been allowed to practice, but will not play for the second consecutive week.
And now the Trojans will look to get on the winning track against a scrappy Utah State team that ran for 428 yards against Weber State last week. A light crowd filled the Coliseum ahead of an odd 11 a.m. kickoff, underscoring the importance of a game USC can’t afford to lose.
USC quietly trying to get on track after lopsided Week 1 loss
With less than an hour until USC’s season opener against Utah State, the Los Angeles skyline still sits behind a morning fog, and the Coliseum remains near-empty.
That’s the consequence of an 11 a.m. kickoff, which gave way to a subdued USC tailgate and very few early-arriving fans. The Trojans (0-1) are coming off a 52-6 loss to No. 1 Alabama and could use a pick-me-up from the home crowd.
Utah State (1-0), which relies on a rushing attack that sliced up Weber State for 428 yards in Week 1, may avoid a hostile road crowd.
If the pregame buildup is any indication, USC will try to put its season on track in a relatively quiet stadium. That is, of course, assuming the Trojans can handle the Aggies and avoid the boos that would accompany the program’s first 0-2 start since 1997.
One USC player knows Utah State can be quick on the draw
USC tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu faced Utah State when he played for Utah last year.
Tu’ikolovatu helped the Utes to a 10-point win. He had a few friends playing for Utah State, but he doesn’t know whether they are on this year’s team. What Tu’ikolovatu does remember is the Aggies’ hard-to-stop rushing attack.
Dual-threat quarterback Kent Myers leads Utah State (1-0). Senior running back Devante Mays, who rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns in a lopsided win over Weber State last week, also paces Utah State’s offense.
“We’re just trying to keep playing contain on him, and watch those ... what are those called? ... the draws,” Tu’ikolovatu said this week. “We just have to watch those draws. When he’ll just drop back and take off right in the middle, find the gap and just take off.”
Myers was efficient in Utah State’s Week 1 win, completing 11 of 7 passes for 100 yards and adding 53 yards rushing.
The Aggies ran 44 times for 428 yards. USC’s defensive line — a question mark heading into the season that was exposed against Alabama — will be tested again.
What the Trojans face in playing the Aggies
USC (0-1) vs. Utah State (1-0), at the Coliseum.
TV: Pac-12 Networks, 11 a.m.
Most intriguing story line: Bring the coffee and doughnuts. For the first time since at least the 1950s, USC is starting a home game at 11 a.m. USC hopes this game can be a wake-up call for the season.
The Aggies are sandwiched between games against Alabama (a 52-6 loss) and Stanford. Snooze through this one, and USC is in real trouble.
The Trojans look to turn things around against the Aggies
The entire USC defense streamed onto the field at the end of Wednesday’s practice, the Trojans’ last heavy-contact session before they attempt to stabilize their season against Utah State on Saturday.
For roughly 15 minutes, the defense had been working itself into a lather. After each pass breakup or big hit, the sideline buzzed, as if the players had consumed too much coffee. Now, on the last play, Adoree’ Jackson swatted away a long, might-have-been-a-touchdown pass down the far sideline.
So the defense sprinted to the end zone, circled around Jackson and danced.
USC has responded to the indignity of a 52-6 loss to Alabama and a head-spinning array of off-the-field incidents by increasing its intensity. A spirited, sometimes angry, edge punctuated the team’s practices this week. A brawl broke out Tuesday.
Running back Justin Davis said the emotion reflected the Trojans’ search for the “fire in the belly” that they lost during Saturday’s defeat. They hope they rediscover it.
“I know my team,” right tackle Zach Banner said. “And I know we’re going to bring it.”