Cody Kessler didn't like what he saw in Trojans' loss

Cody Kessler didn't like what he saw in Trojans' loss
USC quarterback Cody Kessler throws a pass in front of Arizona State linebacker Christian Sam during the Trojans' 38-34 loss to the Sun Devils at the Coliseum on Oct. 4, 2014. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

USC quarterback Cody Kessler watched as the ball floated high above the far side of the Coliseum field on the final play against Arizona State.

The week before, Kessler had completed a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown at the end of the first half against Oregon State.


Now he could only helplessly observe as Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong caught a Hail Mary pass to beat the Trojans as time expired Saturday.

"I was just standing on the bench watching," Kessler said Tuesday. "I just watched the ball go up and had no idea where it was going to land.

"I looked over and saw him catch it. I think I stood there for about five minutes just in shock."

Kessler, who is preparing for Saturday's game against 10th-ranked Arizona, shouldered blame for the Trojans' 38-34 defeat by Arizona State.

"The bottom line is we didn't score enough points — that's on me, that's on the offense," he said, adding "We've got to give our defense a better cushion. We've got to help them out."

Kessler has passed for 10 touchdowns, with no interceptions. Against Arizona State, he completed 28 of 45 passes for 273 yards and rushed for a touchdown. He was sacked three times.

Coach Steve Sarkisian reiterated Tuesday that he wants more big plays from the offense.

Before the Arizona State game, Sarkisian had pushed the tailbacks to break more long runs. Javorius Allen responded with a 53-yard touchdown run.

Sarkisian also wants the passing game to produce more "explosive plays."

Asked if he wanted to throw the ball downfield more, Sarkisian said, "I'd love to."

The Trojans will move on from the loss, Kessler said.

"It's over with," he said."You never want to lose a game like that. It's real tough. But us complaining and whining about it is not going to change our won-loss record."

Turn up the noise

For the first time this season, Sarkisian had static noise piped through speakers at practice to prepare the Trojans for Arizona Stadium.


Arizona's student section is among the most boisterous in the Pac-12 Conference.

"We're just anticipating a hostile environment there," Sarkisian said. "A 7:30 kickoff. No. 10-ranked team in America on the road. National television.

"I know their students will be fired up. I want to make sure our guys are prepared for it."

Quick hits

Safety Gerald Bowman did not practice because of a thigh bruise, Sarkisian said.


Long snapper Zach Smith has not been cleared to play after suffering a concussion against Oregon State. Smith's absence caused Sarkisian to have Kris Albarado punt only two times against Arizona State while Kessler kicked four times. Asked why he didn't reveal Smith's injury last week, Sarkisian said, "Because I didn't want to."


Freshman receiver JuJu Smith would still like to play on defense. Asked if he would have liked to have been on the field as a safety for the final play against Arizona State, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Smith said yes. Several team captains did not address the media after the loss. Smith was asked why he spoke while older teammates left. "That's their personal business," he said, adding "I'm mature enough to talk to the media. I'm not going to be shy and go away from the media and not say what I have to say."

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein