SC Top 5: USC vs. Fresno State

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For every big game this season, we'll deliver the Top 5 plays, and there were plenty to choose from in football's season opening victory over Fresno State.

Sarkisian Q&A: Stanford

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Head coach Steve Sarkisian labored on Labor Day including sitting down for our weekly Q&A to look back at Fresno State and ahead to Stanford.

Kessler Still Rolling

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Junior QB Cody Kessler started the season sharp as can be Saturday and the momentum has not ceased.  He threw for over 300 yards in the first half, capped at a career-high 394 yards for the game and earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for his five touchdown performance.

Click here for more.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian was most impressed with Kessler's "guts" after seeing him stand in the pocket and deliver throws under pressure as well as use his legs to extend plays and run for 28 yards.


Sarkisian Call: Stanford

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USC head coach Steve Sarkisian wrapped up the Fresno State win and looked ahead to Stanford on his weekly Sunday conference call with the media.

Click the link to listen: Sark-Fresno-Stanford.mp3

Sarkisian delivered the most lopsided win by a Trojan head coach in his debut since Howard Jones beat Whittier, 74-0, in 1925.


UNFILTERED: Fresno State

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A day later, the Trojan Family is still abuzz talking about USC's dominant season opening performance.  Before we move on to Stanford, here is an UNFILTERED look back at the win over Fresno State.

McGillen Galleries: USC 52, Fresno State 13

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The Trojans opened the 2014 season with a commanding win over the Fresno State Bulldogs. From Nelson Agholor's two scores to Bryce Dixon and Adoree' Jackson's first touchdowns of their USC careers, John McGillen captured all of the magic on Saturday. Here are his galleries...


First Half:

Second Half:

Ford Trojan of the Game: Cody Kessler

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Junior QB Cody Kessler was voted the SoCal Ford Dealers Trojan of the Game by the Trojan Family on Twitter and Instagram.  The second-year starter put together a career-best performance with 394 passing yards and 28 rushing yards plus 5 touchdowns.


Tunnel Vision Wrap: Fresno State

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The Tunnel Vision crew tied a bow on the first win of the Steve Sarkisian era featuring game highlights and locker room sound from freshman Adoree' Jackson.

6-Points: USC 52, Fresno St. 13

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The Steve Sarkisian era begins in style with a blowout victory at the Coliseum.

Click here for the game recap and final stats.

Click here for Steve Sarkisian's press conference with Cody Kessler and Leonard Williams.

As Advertised

FINAL-score.jpgSarkisian warned USC fans to stay in their seat when the offense has the ball because the Trojans are going to play at a breakneck speed.  Well, he was not lying.  USC set a Pac-12 record by running 104 offensive plays tonight.  "I thought the guys really were locked into the game plan," said Sarkisian about the fast start, which included touchdowns on the first three drives.  "They had a really good sense of urgency.  And for the most part, it was pretty clean."

The Point Guard

QB Cody Kessler set a new career-high with 394 yards passing plus 5 touchdowns (4 throwing and 1 running), but his athleticism stood out the most.  While he is not asked to be a true dual threat quarterback, the prep basketball star showed some nimble footwork to extend plays and even pickup 28 rush yards.  However, he could use some help on his sliding.  "I got all over Clay [Helton] and said, 'What are you guys doing in individual when I am not looking?' We've got to work on our quarterback slides, that's for sure," joked Sarkisian, a former baseball player.  "All in all for the first time in this system, I thought he played great."

Baby Boomers

USC bloodied the majority of the true freshmen tonight, but instead of succumbing to opening night nerves, they stole the show.  Adoree' Jackson and Bryce Dixon caught touchdown passes.  Damien Mama, Toa Lobendahn and Viane Talamaivao helped keep Kessler sack-free and paved the way for 268 rush yards (133 by Buck Allen).  The 2014 class appears to be special, but maybe no one more so than JuJu Smith who caught 4 passes for 123 yards, which is more than Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and Nelson Agholor combined in their debuts.  "Walking down the tunnel, I almost shed a tear," said Smith about his pregame emotions.  "I knew what I had to do.  I had to represent the Trojans."

Pick and Pop

Fresno State wanted no part of USC's pass rush, so both Bulldog quarterbacks got rid of the ball as quickly as possible.  The Trojans' defense adjusted by clogging up the passing lanes and forcing four interceptions, including one by All-American DE Leonard Williams, who also had 7 tackles.  "My coaches were telling me to try to beat the cut blocker by getting my hands up, and that's what I tried to do," said Williams, who almost had a second pick.  He was joined in the pick party by LB Anthony Sarao, S Gerald Bowman and LB Michael Hutchings.

Nobody's Perfect

The first quarter was nearly flawless, but coaches are never satisfied.  Sarkisian and his staff will point to two fumbles (Allen and Justin Davis) and a lackadaisical start to the second half as areas of improvement.  The head coach stressed at halftime that the team "come out with the same fire" as they did in the first half, but instead, Fresno State marched right down the field for six.  "That is definitely an area that we need to improve upon because for us to be a great team, we need to be a great second half team," said Sarkisian.

Game On

The Trojans were clearly not looking past Fresno State, but now we can all focus on the Pac-12 opener at Stanford (Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC), which has become an annual candidate for game of the year. The Cardinal won its opener 45-0 over UC Davis today, and they pose the toughest physical challenge on USC's schedule.  "No partying tonight for me.  I'm just going to get ready for Stanford week," said Williams, who knows the task at hand.  "I'm pretty sure they are going to try to come back with some vengeance this week.  We've just got to make sure all the guys are on board."

Here are the SnappyTV highlights from the season-opening win:

Infographic: USC 52, Fresno State 13

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