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Sunday, August 31, 2014
Crunching great numbers from USC debut

By Garry Paskwietz

Steve Sarkisian summed up the USC victory with the opening line of his postgame news conference.

“That was fun,” said the Trojans coach.

It had to be a lot of fun to be a part of a 52-13 victory in your first game at the helm of the USC program. I also had to be a lot of fun as an offensive-minded head coach to take a thorough look at the stat sheet after the game.

This wasn’t just any offensive performance; this one sent a statement. If there was anybody out there who was wondering how an up-tempo system would combine with pro-style USC athletes, the first set of numbers were pretty impressive.

52 points: It’s always nice to hang half-a-hundred.

701 yards: Anytime the first number of your total yards is a seven, you’ve done a pretty good job.

Steve Sarkisian
Steve Sarkisian put a tough week in the rearview mirror against Fresno State.
105 plays: A Pac-12 conference record. In the first game. USC's opening drive alone was 17 plays.

6.7 yards per play: When you run more than a hundred plays and average 6.7 every play, you will be pretty tough to beat.

37 first downs: Move the chains.

8 straight third down conversions: To open the game, the Trojans converted on their first eight 3rd down conversion attempts.

0 punts: No offense, Kris Albarado, but USC fans like seeing you stay on the sideline.

64 rush attempts: That’s a big number. At half, the Trojans had an equal ratio with 31 rushes and passes. In the second half, it was 33 rushes and 10 passes.

394 passing yards: A career-high for Cody Kessler.

4 touchdowns: Tied a career high for Kessler, set last year against Fresno State. In two games against the Bulldogs, Cody has completed 47 of 67 passes for 739 yards.

7 of 9 in red zone: The Trojans converted on seven of nine trips into the red zone, including six touchdowns.

10: Ten players caught passes for the Trojans.

6: Six players scored touchdowns.

24: The Trojans jumped out to a 24-0 lead to start the game.

It’s not like this was an inexperienced defense USC was going against, as the Bulldogs returned eight starters from last year. As much as anything with the USC offense, it was the way in which so much seemed to work. The plays, the schemes, the execution -- it all went fairly well. There were also no major communication errors, which can always be a concern with a new system and with so many players substituting in and out. It gave a lot of promise to the future for this offense, and it certainly gave the Stanford defensive coaches a lot to think about for this Saturday's game.