Season Report Card: USC Trojans
After winning the season opener against Hawaii in less than convincing fashion, USC lost one of the worst Pac-12 games in recent memory by falling 10-7 at home against Washington State. Then, after sneaking by Utah State a couple of weeks later, the Trojans marched to Tempe to play Arizona State.
A 62-41 final later, and Lane Kiffin was out of a job. Enter Ed Orgeron. After Orgeron's takeover, the Trojans looked like a completely different team, going 7-2 to finish out the year, which got them to the 10-win mark on the season.
Let's grade USC on its roller coaster season:
There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position early in the season, as neither Cody Kessler or Max Wittek provided much of a spark offensively. But Kessler got better as the season progressed, and really played some outstanding football in the post-Kiffin era. Sophomore running back Javorious Allen was explosive in the backfield, going for over 120 yards on the ground on four of the final six games of the year. During that stretch, he also scored 12 touchdowns, which was a pretty incredible feat.
This was the pride and joy of the Trojans this season. There were times were the defense was absolutely phenomenal. The 20-17 victory over then No. 4 Stanford comes to mind as one of those times. USC only allowed 21.2 points per game on the season, and were fantastic against the run. Junior linebacker Hayes Pullard anchored the linebacker unit, and led the the team with 94 total tackles.
Obviously, this is the Orgeron grade and not the Kiffin grade. What Orgeron was able to accomplish following Kiffin's exit was absolutely incredible. The first five weeks of the season were a monumental struggle for USC, and the Trojans' ability to rebound and finish at 10-4 speaks volumes as to the effect that Orgeron had on the players in that locker room. Like USC or not, it was one of the feel-good stories in college football in 2013.
With Kiffin at the helm, USC looked like a team that would struggle to hit six wins. But following the change in leadership, Orgeron brought much needed fire and enthusiasm to this program. It didn't earn him the full-time position, but Trojan fans will never forget the job that he did to save a team that was on the brink of one its worst seasons in recent memory.
What did you think of USC's miraculous turnaround? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow @FanIQ or myself on Twitter!