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Final Thoughts: No. 7 USC Football Easily Defeats Fresno State, 45-17

Sep 18, 2022
  1. Offensive efficiency continues:

  • USC continued to flex its offensive firepower on Saturday. Quarterback Caleb Williams finished 25 of 37 for 284 yards and two touchdowns. The Trojans have now scored 152 points through three games. The last USC team to score more points through three games was the 2005 team which scored 178. USC also was aggressive on Saturday, going 3 for 3 on fourth down attempts.

  • "Great win against a good football team," head coach Lincoln Riley said following the game. "We said that all week with our team that we're going to get tested and we're going to be faced with some situations in this game that we haven't been in yet as a team, and it was good to see us really respond. I'm really proud of the way we played in the second half. That was a very big point of emphasis throughout the week — especially coming off of the Stanford game — of putting together a more complete game, and I thought we did that very well."

  1. Run game gets it done:

  • USC dominated time of possession in the first half thanks in large part to the success its run game had. Travis Dye and Austin Jones both rushed for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown on Saturday. Dye averaged 9.3 yards per carry while Jones averaged 9.2. Also I just have to highlight that Dye must've missed 20 defenders on the way to the end zone on his touchdown - he said following the game he wasn't going to take no for an answer.

  • "We were steady. I thought the line was really good in the run game," Riley said. "I thought the guys started seeing it pretty well. It's important; you've got to run the ball to win and win consistently and win different ways." 

  1. USC's defense sets higher expectations:

  • The Trojans held a powerful Fresno State offense to its lowest point total (17) since November of last year, but overall sentiment following the game seemed to be that it wasn't good enough. Linebacker Shane Lee explained that the team aimed to keep the Bulldogs scoreless and thus there is more to prove. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch acknowledged that USC needs to fix the explosive plays it allows. "I refuse to believe that's the best we can play," Grinch said.
  1. Solomon continues to shine:

  • Redshirt senior Solomon Byrd continues to impress as the season progresses. He recorded a game-changing strip sack that gave USC the ball to start the second half. He also had two sacks against Stanford last week. The defensive lineman was praised for his effort during Riley's postgame press conference.
  • "We gave him a game ball, which was very much deserved," Riley said. "He took five reps in the Rice game. That is what we're trying to build — a guy that in the first game of the season takes five reps and, as a three, gets an opportunity, keeps working, and then now look at him. Now he's a starter, came in and really impacted the last two weeks, was even better this week than he was last week from what I saw on the field. And we would expect them to continue to get better, but it's been huge."
  1. Injury updates:

  • Offensive lineman Bobby Haskins struggled through Saturday's game with what looked to be a shoulder injury. He exited the game in the fourth and did not return after being evaluated by trainers on the field. Riley shared, however, if the game was closer Haskins could have returned. Left tackle Courtland Ford did not play against Fresno State due to an ankle injury that listed him as questionable throughout the week.
  1. Championship Effort:

  • USC's second-team defense closed out Saturday's game with a goal line stop, which seemed to be one of the most important plays of the night for Riley
  •  "Probably my favorite play of the game or sequence of the game was the goal-line stop there at the end," Riley explained. "That's what we're about. No matter who thinks, 'The game is over, this doesn't matter,' it all matters to us. If you're going to be a champion, it's got to all matter. And so for our guys to get that stop right there at the end, to close the game was as meaningful as anything that happened tonight. Proud of our guys."