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Forget Oregon? USC may have the new up-tempo offense

Steve Sarkisian

The start of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC had a rough introduction leading up to the game itself, but once the ball was kicked it was a completely different story. USC’s offense showed some new wrinkles as Sarkisian started to leave a new stamp on the Trojans. It was only one game, but a preview of things to come certainly seems to suggest the Trojans are going to keep the pressure on with their offense.

As noted in John’s week one round-up, USC ran 104 plays in a victory over Fresno State. The total number of plays is a new Pac-12 record, which says something given Oregon is in the conference and up-tempo coaches like Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham are picking up the pace on offense. USC will not be running 104 plays every week, but the trend could see the Trojans running more plays than usual. ¬†For the sake of comparison, USC ran an average of 68.4 plays per game in 2013 (67.5 plays per game in 2012, 70.6 plays per game in 2011).

It was only one game, naturally, but the Trojans were on fire on offense. USC converted 1 of 18 third-down attempts and racked up over 700 yards of offense. Cody Kessler had a great game, passing for 394 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Javorious Allen led the way running the football for 133 yards. Eight different Trojans ran the football and 10 different players caught a pass as USC spread things around.

One other point to consider is USC’s offense looked far more promising than their city rivals from UCLA did in week one. Of course, UCLA flew across the country to play on the east coast at noon eastern. That is no easy task for any team from the west coast, college or pro, but the Bruins were sloppy on offense. UCLA’s offense was probably not as weak as it looked against Virginia, and USC’s offense may not be quite as explosive as it was in this match-up. Letting the schedule play out will provide more time to evaluate¬†it all more fairly.

Sarkisian’s debut could not have gone much better.

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5 Responses to “Forget Oregon? USC may have the new up-tempo offense”
  1. realfootballfan says: Aug 31, 2014 3:56 PM

    That’s just how bad Kiffin was.

  2. cjnbsc says: Aug 31, 2014 4:03 PM

    If 1/18 on third downs is on fire, my Bills will burn up the field this year

  3. longborer69 says: Aug 31, 2014 4:35 PM

    I doubt Sark is forgetting Oregon, though perhaps he wishes he could after his string of success against them in recent years.

    Seriously, this is not at all like Oregon. USC had almost 40 minutes time of possession. Oregon rarely exceeds 25. USC had 5 possessions with 10 or more plays. Oregon’s starters only had one of 10 plays.

    In the first half (when the starters were still in), Oregon scored on six possessions. Those six possessions totaled 9:19, for 36 plays. That’s just over 15 seconds per play. If Oregon had 40 minutes of possession at that tempo, they’d have 150 plays. In the first half on USC’s scoring drives, they totaled 17:40 on 55 plays, just under 20 seconds a play. That’s moving along, but certainly not like Oregon.

    If USC goes as up-tempo as Oregon, they’ll struggle badly this year on defense. The sanctions are still hitting their depth, and to go that fast, you need defensive depth or you get worn down, since the other team has the ball for so much longer.

    Oregon doesn’t run a lot of plays because so many of their possessions hit the end zone in less than 10 plays. USC had five possessions with 10 or more plays. USC’s defense gets a lot of credit for the high number of offensive plays. They got the ball back quickly. Four turnovers, plenty of very short possessions for Fresno State.

  4. irishlad19 says: Aug 31, 2014 5:09 PM

    Let’s wait until they play a competitive team before we get excited.

  5. 8to80texansblog says: Aug 31, 2014 6:15 PM

    Wow I thought A&Ms 99 plays and 680 yds was impressive.

    S. Carolina > Fresno St. but still….. Damn.

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