HONOLULU -- Seven Trojans made their first career starts Thursday at Aloha Stadium -- among those freshmen Robert Woods and Nickell Robey, who each performed admirably considering the circumstances.
But running back Marc Tyler was the star of the night for the newbies, carrying the ball 17 times for 154 yards and altogether not looking like a player who was making his first career start. From his first carry to his last, Tyler was an effective runner -- taking what the defense gave him to the tune of nine yards per carry. Only one of his 17 rushes went for fewer than three yards, and he didn't lose yards at any point.
After the game, Tyler reflected for a bit on the long, winding journey he took at USC to finally end up in the spotlight as the featured back for the Trojans.
"I didn't think I could still do it," said Tyler, who was a first-team All-American playing alongside former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen at Oaks Christian. "But losing that weight, getting healthy, it all came back. To be a running back, you gotta be able to read things, see things and then let your natural ability take over. It took over there."
Hear everything Tyler had to say in a humorous postgame session with reporters Thursday:
Other than Woods, Robey and Tyler, the four first-time starters were safeties Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald, nose tackle DaJohn Harris and right guard Khaled Holmes. But Robey was the big story in fall camp, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound true freshman making his way from Florida to USC and earning a starting spot in the season opener with continuous impressive play.
After the Trojans' 49-36 win Thursday, Robey said he thought he played fairly well for his first start at the college level but saw room for improvement before next week's home opener against Virginia.
"I feel like I gotta tighten up a couple adjustments I had made during the game," he said.
Hear what else Robey said in a one-on-one video interview on the field at Aloha Stadium: