There was a time when a 17-14 win by USC over Utah State would’ve been greeted with cries of panic by those who follow Trojan football.
But expectations have fallen so much at USC, any win these days over any level of opponent is seen as something to be taken without reservation.
And so, Lane Kiffin survived another week — barely — as his Trojans squeaked out a 3-point win over out-manned Utah State in the Coliseum.
If not for the resiliency of the USC defense, Kiffin might already be on the outskirts of town, run out ignominiously on a rail. The new 5-2 scheme under defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast suffocated Utah State’s brilliant quarterback, Chuckie Keeton, holding him to just 179 yards passing and negative 15 yards rushing. Meanwhile, the USC offense continued to look like something out of the stone age.
The Trojans put up 282 yards of offense, went 3 of 13 on third down conversions and were held to just 3 yards per carry. USC managed just 17 total points despite spending most of the game inside Utah State territory. But mistakes, dropped balls, penalties, poor play calling and a scrappy Aggies defense handicapped the Trojan attack all day.
Utah State had a chance to win this one. Beating the Trojans would’ve been a landmark win for the program, but Keeton couldn’t get it done and the usually-slippery quarterback seemed out of sorts most of the day. The Aggies now stand at 2-2 after dropping its second close game to a Pac-12 opponent.
For USC, things do not get any easier. The Trojans travel to Arizona State next week and, based on how they’ve looked in the first four games, things could get ugly in the desert.
But USC is not Florida. Despite this narrow win, it’s still a novice at winning ugly. Unless the Trojans get better quick, playing ugly will just mean losing ugly.
You may want to pay attention to Jaheim Oatis as he’s a rather big deal, literally and figuratively, on the recruiting trail.
Otis hails from Columbia, Mississippi, and will be in the eighth grade this school year. What makes Oatis unique from other football recruits is that, not long after finishing up the seventh grade, he says he stands 6-4 and weighs in at 284 pounds; Scout.com lists him at 6-5, 287 pounds.
Even more unique? Late last week, he revealed via his personal Twitter account that he has already received offers from Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Oatis isn’t all size, either, as evidenced by his running a 40-yard dash at Ole Miss earlier this year.
Oatis also plays baseball — he claims to have been clocked pitching at 84 mph — as well as basketball — he was the MVP at an AAU tournament this summer. When it comes football, he plays offensive line along with tight end.
Just ahead of the start of summer camp, Bowling Green has further solidified its depth and experience along its offensive line.
Appearing at the MAC football preview Wednesday, Mike Jinks confirmed that John Kurtz has been added to his Bowling Green football roster. Kurtz comes to the Falcons as a graduate transfer, which would technically give him immediate eligibility.
“He played spring football for Cincinnati and was in the rotation for playing time on the offensive line,” Jinks said according to the Toledo Blade. “He’s a kid who has a chance to have an impact right away.
“The opportunity is there for him to play right away for us. This is a big ‘get’ for us.”
Jinks also hinted that Kurtz, who has two years of eligibility remaining, could be a redshirt candidate for the 2017 season as well.
Despite being just a two-star 2014 recruit, he was rated as the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Kentucky. During his time with the Bearcats, Kurtz played sparingly.
Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?
On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.
As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.
Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.
In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona. Nearly five months later?
Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season. No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.
The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.
Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.
A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.