It took one quarter for USC’s offense to show some spars they had been lacking this season under former head coach Lane Kiffin. Cody Kessler completed two different touchdown passes of at least 60 yards, one to Nelson Agholor and another to Tre Madden, to get the Trojans off on a fast start against Arizona Thursday night.
With Ed Orgeron coaching his first game for the Trojans under the interim tag, filling in for the fired Kiffin, it has quickly become apparent there is still life within the USC program. Social networking conversations suggested Orgeron was giving everyone a breath of fresh air, from players to fans. So far, it may have made a difference. For one half, at least.
Kessler is already well on his way to a new career high for passing yards in a game, with 218 yards at the half to go with two touchdowns. He set a career high in USC’s loss two weeks ago to Arizona State with 295 passing yards. The USC running game may not have big numbers, but the power running game seems to have found a groove late in the half. USC has also done a very good job shutting down Arizona’s running offense, holding Ka’Deem Carey to 50 yards on 11 rushing attempts.
Arizona did manage to score one touchdown, with a 57-yard lob and run from B.J. Denker to Nate Phillips in the final minute of the half. Will that turn things around, or will USC continue to perform the way they have so far?
The Trojans even have a blocked punt to get the special teams involved.
USC is without some players, including receiver Marqise Lee, but does welcome back running back Silas Redd to the offense.
Is this what USC will look like in the second half of the season? If so, could Orgeron actually coach himself in to a position as a favorite to retain the duties of head coach beyond this season?
It’s looking more and more likely that Oregon State will be at less than full strength in their backfield when they line up against No. 5 Washington Saturday evening.
Leading rusher Ryan Nall aggravated a foot injury in last Saturday’s loss after just one carry and is officially listed as doubtful for the game against the Huskies. Nall did not practice Thursday and was still wearing a boot to protect the injured foot.
Additionally, Nall’s backup, Artavis Pierce, is dealing with a stinger and did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media, The Oregonian reported.
Nall currently leads the Beavers with 464 yards and six rushing touchdowns. He’s also third on the team with 13 receptions.
Pierce is second behind Nall with 262 yards.
If neither Nall nor Pierce are available, the bulk of the running game load would be shouldered by Tim Cook. The senior has carried the ball nine times this season for 22 yards.
Trey Dunkelberger changed positions earlier this year during spring practice. Seven months or so later, he’s changing programs.
The website JUCO Football Frenzy reported Wednesday that Dunkelberger had decided to transfer from Syracuse. The tight end “confirmed” the move in the form of retweeting the site’s original tweet.
The Syracuse Post-Standard subsequently confirmed the initial report via a text from the player himself, although the football program has yet to address the player’s status with the team moving forward.
Dunkelberger will be leaving the Orange as a graduate transfer, meaning he could move on to another FBS program and be eligible to play immediately in 2017. Next season will be his final year of eligibility.
After playing in one game last season, Dunkelberger has not seen the field yet on 2016. He moved from tight end to defensive end during spring practice, then back to tight end in summer camp.
Boise State did just about everything they could to give the game away. BYU did their best to take it too.
In the end the Broncos survived a whopping five turnovers and blocked a last second field goal to escape with a 28-27 win over their regional rivals.
Tailback Jeremy McNichols scored on the third play of the game on his way to a 140 yard, one touchdown night on the ground to go along with an impressive 109 yards and a touchdown through the air. Wideout Thomas Sperbeck had 109 yards and a score as well and became the school’s all-time leading receiver while doing so.
Quarterback Brett Rypien put up some big numbers with 442 yards passing and three touchdowns but did throw two pick-sixes as part of a wild second quarter that kept BYU in the game.
That stretch also included a potentially disastrous fake punt from the Cougars own end zone on 4th-and-19. The attempt was stuffed at the goal line but the defense held Boise State to a field goal attempt that was eventually shanked to cause no harm on the scoreboard.
BYU was without the services of tailback Jamaal Williams, who became the school’s all-time leading rusher last week against Mississippi State but was held out with an ankle injury he aggravated during warmups. In his place, Squally Canada ran for 88 yards on 21 carries.
Quarterback Taysom Hill had a rough night passing (21-of-42 for just 187 yards) but nearly rallied his team for a game-winning score with under two minutes left.
The win keeps Boise State undefeated and in the driver’s seat for the lucrative Group of Five bid to a major bowl game at the end of the season. While a loss would not have completely derailed their chances at making to the New Year’s Six, it would have made things interesting given the number of other candidates for the spot.
After a turnover-filled outing and nearly blowing a second half lead for the second week in a row, you can bet that the Broncos will look to regroup over the coming days and get back on track ahead of their trip to Wyoming.
The Pac-12 has reprimanded and fined Washington State coach Mike Leach a whopping $10,000 for his comments this week about Arizona State stealing signs.
“Conference rules prohibit Pac-12 member institutions from disparaging each other and discrediting other institutions,” commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Information or accusations relative to rule violations must be handled by institutions filing those concerns with the Conference office through a formal process, and institutions must refrain from discussing those concerns publicly.”
Leach accused the Sun Devils and head coach Todd Graham of stealing signs last season and brought the subject up again at his Monday press conference ahead of the Cougars trip to Tempe this weekend.
“We’ll have to keep an eye on it. That’s certainly the reputation. And I think they have a certain amount of technology and expertise on the subject which if they ever go to a different conference or something I’d certainly like them to share it with us,” Leach said. “You’ve got to keep an eye on it because they’ll steal signs and they’re pretty clever about it. And it’s like breaking the enigma code with them… I think they ought to do a full on investigation to see how they’re doing it and make sure it’s within the rules.”
The Pac-12 noted that it is not against NCAA rules to observe an opponent’s signals but a school cannot use any audio or video equipment to record them.
Graham defended his program earlier in the week from the accusations and denied that they used any equipment to record signals.
This isn’t the first time this subject has come up so you can bet that the pre-game talk — and post-game handshake — between the two head coaches might be a little chilly on Saturday given all the words flying back-and-forth between the two.