These are bad times for the USC football program, and even though it doesn’t mean Washington State are on the right track towards some sort of glory days, winning in the Coliseum for the first time in over a decade and against the Trojans anywhere in 11 years is a cause for celebration.
To say it was an ugly game would be an understatement. Washington State won the game despite their quarterback, Connor Halliday, no throwing a single touchdown and getting intercepted twice. Luckily for him, the dual quarterback theory Lane Kiffin (booed, obviously, at the end of the game) didn’t work, with Cody Kessler and Max Wittek combining for a terrible 11-of-21 for 54 yards and two interceptions.
The result? USC lost, at home, 10-7, against a team that had a total of 7 yards on the ground, averaging a pitiful 0.3 yards per carry. Their only touchdown came from Damante Horton, the senior cornerback who ended up with two interceptions, including one of them being returned for 70 yards to put the Cougars on level terms right before the half time break. The game ended with a field goal, 3 minutes from time, by Andrew Furney, hitting it from 41 yards.
It ended with USC hopelessly trying to get something going behind their only viable offensive weapon, Tre Madden, running for 151 yards on 32 carries. Marqise Lee, you ask? He might be the most talented wide receiver in the country, but one of the biggest names in College Football couldn’t do enough in order to give themselves a solid replacement to Matt Barkley over the years, and are left with two guys, both Sophomores, who might be so bad it’ll end up costing USC a place in a bowl game.
USC has averaged over 45 points per game in their meeting with Washington State in their last seven games, but their 7 points on offense ties for their worst offensive performance in the past 10 years – equal to their loss against Georgia Tech in the bowl game last year (without Barkley) and their 36-7 defeat against Oregon State in 2010.
Where to from here? The only way is up for USC, probably. They managed only 193 yards of total offense on 63 plays. It can’t get much worse, and for Kiffin to choose a quarterback might be the best solution. All the excuses in the world can’t help when you’re a program who should be above consecutive seasons of appalling play, only this time there’s not enough talent and depth on offense as well to hide all the other faults.
For Washington State and Mike Leach, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this as the highlight of their season. We’re still very far away from the days of Mike Price and Bill Doba (or at least some of them), and yet signature wins, the kind of which Washington State hasn’t really seen much of over the last decade or so, can push this program into yet another improvement, or at least better than the 3-9 season from last year.
They have a decent force at running back in Teondray Caldwell, but not much else for now. If they can win both of their games before their brutal Pac-12 marathon begins on September 28, they might have built up enough confidence to get through this season with something of a positive record.