From the locker room: USC 20, Stanford 17


LOS ANGELES -- Notes, quotes, and anecdotes from the Coliseum after the Trojans (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12 South) defeated Stanford (8-3, 5-2 Pac-12 North).

USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron comments:

Pride and true: “It was a tremendous effort by the organization and the coaching staff. For some reason on Monday there was a belief that we were going to prepare as well as we could and find a way to win the game. I’m awfully proud of our men. This is something we’ve wanted for the past Trojans and coaches that fought hard. This is for the Trojan family.”

On going for it on fourth-and-1: “I knew I was taking a chance, but I looked in these guys’ eyes and I knew they wanted to go for it. I wanted to give them the best shot to get what they wanted. It worked; it was a great call. It could have gone the other way, I understand that, but it was a good throw [by QB Cody Kessler].”

The winning field goal: “[Andre Heidari] made it. The whole game was a grind. It could have went any way, any second. We deserved to give our team a chance to win the game.”

On his job future: “Obviously, there’s going to be a decision made here after we play UCLA. That’s totally out of my hands. All I can do is work with them every day. I think everything happens for a reason and there’s a greater plan. What that plan is I don’t know, but we’ll work together on a daily basis that’s all I know.”

Stanford head coach David Shaw’s comments:

Apologies: First off, my apologies to Coach Orgeron. I waited on the field for about eight minutes to congratulate him, but it was pandemonium out there and understandably so. They made the plays at the end to win it and we didn’t. I want to congratulate him. I wanted to do it face to face, but I’ll send him a note later.”

On the USC team: Everybody except for the people in this conference is surprised by USC. They’re healthy. They settled on their quarterback and he is playing well and smart. They’re running the ball well. They’re playing really good up front and getting healthy at the end of the year. Everyone beat up on them at the start of the season, but they played well tonight.”

On the USC defense: “They’re good. They have an outstanding player in No. 90 [George Uko] and No. 94 [Leonard Williams] is back who is outstanding. Dion Bailey and Devon Kennard, who are outstanding. That’s the shame of their season, their injuries.”

More notes and anecdotes

Key(s) to victory: With just over three minutes remaining in the game, Trojans freshman strong safety Su’a Cravens intercepted Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan at the USC 44-yard line, setting up Heidari’s game-winning 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds on the game clock.

Andre the Giant: On his game-winning field goal, Heidari said, “It’s the same kick every time. Three steps back and two over, line it up. I did what I needed to do and I’m just thankful for my team to put me in that position. It was a good feeling.”

The thermometer: Temperature at kickoff in Los Angeles was 63 degrees.

The offensive scoring average: The Trojans scored 20 points against Stanford. Prior to the game with the Cardinal, the Trojans were averaging 29.0 points per game.

USC QB Cody Kessler on going for it on fourth-and 1: “Coach O, it’s his call and he could tell in our eyes that we wanted to do this. We were giving him that look, and he could tell our offense didn’t want to come off. Coach Helton called it and adjusted to what they were doing.”

The defensive scoring average: The Trojans defense allowed 17 points to Stanford. Prior to the Cardinal game, the Trojans were allowing 19.6 points per game.

Defensive evaluation: Linebacker Hayes Pullard said, “I give all the credit to the coaching staff. They put a great plan together. We knew we wouldn’t officially stop them, but we knew needed to slow them down and match their intensity out there. We had to give it our all and go four quarters.”

The pattern: This was the Trojans’ ninth consecutive win over Stanford when facing them the game after California.

Offensively challenged: Prior to the Stanford game, the Trojans were averaging 402.6 yards per game in total offense. Against the Cardinal, the Trojans had 311 total yards on offense.

The big screen: On where he was when Heidari kicked his game winner, All-America wide receiver Marqise Lee said, “I looked at the big screen. I was too far away to walk down the sidelines to see. I had been kicked in the shin and I was hurting in the end.”

Defensively speaking: Prior to the Stanford game, the Trojans were allowing an average of 339.5 total yards on defense. Against the Cardinal, the Cardinal and Gold allowed 337 total yards.

Making a line statement: On trying to neutralize Stanford’s vaunted offensive line, Trojans defensive tackle George Uko said, “We needed to get penetration and get into their backfield. We had to be physical. A lot of teams they play back down to them. They had to adjust to us by running wide and throwing screens, something they don’t want to do.”

What’s the rush: Prior to the Stanford game, the Trojans were averaging 185.9 yards per game rushing. Against the Cardinal, the Trojans rushed for just 23 net yards.

Meaningful: On the emotional win, Trojans starting offensive right guard Aundrey Walker said, “This win meant a lot to me and the team. We haven’t beaten them since I was a freshman, and I am so happy for Coach O and coach [Mike} Summers, our O-line coach.”

Defending the rush: Prior to the Stanford game, the Trojans defense was allowing 113.5 yards rushing per game. Against the Cardinal, the Men of Troy allowed 210 net yards rushing.

Giving thanks: On the Trojans defensive line’s performance, safety Dion Bailey said, “All the thanks and praise for the front guys. It’s just a testimony to how good our front is.”

Passing by: Prior to the Stanford game, the Trojans were averaging 216.7 passing yards per game. Against the Cardinal, the Trojans passed for 288 yards.

Improvement: Fullback Soma Vainuku, who had issues catching the ball last season but scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard pass reception, said, “I have matured since last season. I can’t explain the feeling I got tonight on that touchdown. I had a mindset since last season and last spring that I was going to take things seriously and get better. My cousin, Rey Maualuga, sent me a nice text message after the game congratulating me on the touchdown and the win.”

Air raid: Prior to the Stanford game, the Trojans were allowing 226.0 passing yards per game. Against the Cardinal, the Trojans allowed 127 passing yards.

Flag time: Prior to the Stanford game, the Trojans were averaging 61.0 penalty yards per game. Against the Cardinal, USC was penalized four times for 45 yards.

Top tacklers: The Trojans defense was led by linebackers Anthony Sarao and Hayes Pullard with 12 and 11 tackles, respectively.

The infirmary: Wide receiver Marqise Lee suffered a shin injury, but is expected to be ready for Colorado next Saturday. It was also confirmed that three fans were taken to the hospital following the wild celebration on the field after the game. All were reported to be in good condition.

Pulling out all the stops: With a thunderous ovation, former Trojans Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Matt Leinart led the Men of Troy onto to field prior to kickoff.

Scouting the talent: NFL scouts in attendance included the Seahawks, Giants, Packers, Rams, Redskins, Ravens, and Jaguars.

Bowled over: Bowl representatives in attendance included the Holiday, Alamo, Las Vegas, and Sugar Bowls.

Next Saturday: The Trojans travel to Colorado for a Pac-12 South division game. Kickoff time is to be announced.