Print and Go Back ESPN.com: USC Trojans [Print without images]

Saturday, October 26, 2013
Inside the locker room: 'New guys step up'

By Greg Katz

LOS ANGELES -- Notes, quotes, and anecdotes from the Coliseum after the USC Trojans' (5-3, 2-2 Pac-12) 19-3 victory over Utah (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12).

USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron

Opening statement: "I'm really pleased how we played today. I thought the kicking of Andre Heidari was crucial in this game; we were able to get points. We had some new guys step up. Dion [Bailey] was hurt at halftime, put his uniform on, and went back played for the team. It's a happy locker room, and I'm happy for them."

Cody Kessler
Cody Kessler was efficient, despite a hobbled receiving corp. He completed 21 of 32 for 230 yards.
On the offense's inability to score touchdown: "We're going to watch the film and fix it. Our goal today was to win the game as a team, whatever it took. When we watch the film, there will be things to fix, but I have complete confidence in (play caller) Clay Helton and this team."

On his two freshmen safeties, Su'a Cravens and Leon McQuay III, combining for two interceptions: "When we recruited both of those guys, we signed two of the best safeties in America. Leon is a great example of someone who steps up. He's been working hard and solving problems."

On fewer penalties: "We addressed it as a team. It wasn't in a tough way. It was believing in the technique."

On quarterback Cody Kessler's performance: "He has a competitive spirit. He's a leader, and you can see what he's doing. The guys believe in him, and we believe in him, and we love having him around."

Utah head coach Kyle Willingham

Praising USC: "A lot of credit goes to USC's defense. That's the No. 1 defense in the conference for a good reason. They have a lot to do with our deficiencies. I'm not trying to paint a picture that they don't deserve credit. They took the ball away and were the ones that made things happen with their defense.

Sounds like the Trojans: "We should've scored a touchdown instead of a field goal (in the opening drive). It was pleasant to get a field goal, but field goals don't win games typically. We have to get touchdowns."

More notes and anecdotes

Key(s) to victory: USC junior kicker Heidari -- who missed two critical field goals in in a 14-10 loss at Notre Dame -- kicked four field goals, including three in the second quarter. Heidari, who established a personal career-high for field goals in a game, connected from 35, 38, 28 and 40 yards.

The offensive scoring average: The Trojans scored 19 points against Utah. Before the game, the Trojans were averaging 25.4 points per game.

Feeling proud: On his walk-on teammates stepping up for the win, Trojans quarterback Kessler said, "I am so proud of those guys. Some of them never have played in a game. They did tremendous. This game was so important for all of us, because we've been through so much adversity."

Defending the rush: Before the Utah game, the Trojans were allowing 110.3 yards rushing per game. Against the Utes, the Trojans allowed 71 yards rushing.

Getting defensive: On his defense's performance, linebacker Devon Kennard said, "We played for four quarters. We really got after their quarterback pretty good."

Offensively better: Before the Utah game, the Trojans were averaging 396.9 yards per game in total offense. Against the Utes, the Trojans had 260 total yards on offense.

Rush to dominance: Before the Utah game, the Trojans were averaging 190.1 yards per game rushing. Against the Utes, the Trojans rushed for 30 net yards.

Redd flag: After being despondent after last week's loss to Notre Dame, Trojans senior tailback Silas Redd said, "Yeah, I spent that night sulking. I just followed our 24-hour rule about losing and then got ready this week. We have to just keep winning and stay healthy and just keep competing."

Pacific fall: Temperature at kickoff was 74 degrees.

The defensive scoring average: The Trojans' defense allowed 3 points to Utah. Before the Utes game, the Trojans were allowing 21.6 points per game.

The DC pontificates: Regarding his defense, Trojans defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said, "Everybody had to do their job and play with technique. We made it a lot simpler in the second half. We didn't do a lot of things, because of the moving parts (injuries). We had to stay in our rush lanes and get off blocks. We changed our rush lanes, because their quarterback stepped up in the pocket."

Sack time: The Trojans recorded six sacks, and defensive tackle Leonard Williams had one of them. Williams said, "Notre Dame is very physical up front. It helped me prepare for the physical teams coming up (like Utah). I've been working on the double-team all week. It helps to play a physical team before another physical team (Oregon State)."

For Pete's sake: New defensive line coach Pete Jenkins praised Williams, saying afterward, "He's got a great future. Boy, he's got a great motor. I am very happy with him and thought he did a nice job. I thought everybody wanted to win today. We have a great bunch of guys."

Defensively speaking: Before the Utah game, the Trojans were allowing an average of 333.9 total yards on defense. Against the Utes, the Cardinal and Gold allowed 201 total yards.

The infirmary: Right tackle Kevin Graf (left ankle). Freshman strong safety Cravens (groin). Tight end Shane Sullivan (knee).

The shutout: The last time Utah was held without a touchdown was against Boise State in 2010.

Air low: Before the Utah game, the Trojans were allowing 223.6 passing yards per game. Against the Utes, the Trojans allowed 130 passing yards.

The Shaw speaks: On playing corner, Josh Shaw said, "We said no more curl routes. We have to make it personal. The coaches challenged us in the middle of this week. I told the coaches before the game not to worry about the right side. I studied a lot of film this week on Utah."

Top tacklers: The Trojans defense was led by defensive end J.R. Tavai with 11 tackles, followed by linebackers Hayes Pullard and Anthony Sarao with nine each.

Pigskin stealer: On his fumble recovery, linebacker Sarao said, "I just took it from him (the receiver). It really felt good to come out here and get a win. They had a very physical offensive line, but this prepares us for the future."

Passing fancy: Before the Utah game, the Trojans were averaging 206.7 passing yards per game. Against the Utes, the Trojans passed for 230 yards.

Getting better: Before the Utah game, the Trojans were averaging 64.4 penalty yards per game. Against the Utes, USC was penalized four times for 20 yards.

Scouting the talent: There were no NFL scouts or bowl game representatives in attendance.

Next Friday: The Trojans travel to Oregon State in a Pac-12 Conference game. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. PT (ESPN2).