It has not been the easiest week for the USC football program, with its head coach being called a racist and another player recanting a story of heroism.
Those stories took a back seat to the action on the field, and Steve Sarkisian began his USC career with a big win.
A 52-13 win over Fresno State, in front of a national television audience, gave Trojans football fans reason to breathe a bit easier. Granted, it is only the first game of the season and USC will have many more tests ahead, but it is always nice for a head coach to start his or her career with a big win.
Sarkisian can thank Cody Kessler for part of that victory. His quarterback was pretty solid, completing 25 passes for 407 yards and four touchdowns.
This was a fairly solid win for many reasons. USC held Fresno State’s third-ranked offense to only 14 first downs and 295 yards. Fresno State’s defense is ranked 93rd in the nation, and it showed through and through.
But enough about stats. If you saw USC’s last week, you’d wonder what Sarkisian did to stay sane.
First the Trojans lost the services of Josh Shaw in what was this year’s version of Manti Te’o. Shaw told people he suffered ankle injuries saving someone from drowning. It turns out his injuries may have been from a domestic dispute, but we won’t know the full story because his lawyer has advised Shaw to stop talking.
Not the best thing you want to have happen to your football program. But wait, there’s more. Anthony Brown quit the program a few days ago and essentially called Sarkisian a racist. And how was your week, coach?
These stories are still unfolding, so we won’t know the end result for a while yet. For one night, however, the focus of the team was on the field, and you can call this a statement game in that it didn’t cause the Trojans’ focus to shift elsewhere.
Sarkisian’s first game won’t be celebrated for long. The Trojans will get right back to work and probably hear more about Shaw and Brown.
Tonight, however, is a time for winning. Anything to get the focus on the field.
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