By Earl Heath, Sports Writer
It’s a new era for USC football with head coach Lincoln Riley, and it begins with QB Caleb Williams who made the move with Riley from Oklahoma. Some 35,000 fans showed up at the Coliseum for the first glimpse at the new look trojans.
Williams saw limited action early but appeared to lead the team in other ways. He walked the sidelines encouraging defensive and offensive players.
“We all need to get off to a good start and come together as a unit,” said the sophomore QB.
USC’s passing attack was diversity in options. The offense frequently switched out receivers, even in the middle of drives. In total, 10 different players had at least one catch.
Mario Williams stood out the sophomore receiver had the first two touchdown catches of the day, both on fade passes to the corner of the endzone.
Redshirt freshman Kyron Ware-Hudson was another standout with 36 receiving yards on 4 receptions and adding an 18-yard rush in the first half.
USC’s ground attack is led by running backs redshirt senior Travis Dye, senior Austin Jones and redshirt junior Darwin Barlow, the Trojans rushed for 94 yards on the day.
Dye could be the favorite to start. The transfer from Oregon showed quickness and power. Jones, Barlow and redshirt senior receiver Brandon Outlaw also took carries. In terms of usage, Dye saw more looks on outside runs, while Jones was utilized as a power-running option.
On the defensive side, Coordinator Alex Grinch is trying to turnaround a unit that allowed the fifth-most rushing yards per game in the Pac-12 last season. The start was slow during this game. It allowed 17 points in the first 15 minutes of play and only earned its first points (via stopping the offense on fourth down) in the second half. But things turned it around in the second half, and it started with its ability to stop the run.
Ten different Trojans had tackles for loss — redshirt senior defensive lineman Nick Figueroa and redshirt freshman inside linebacker Julien Simon each forced 6-yard losses.