Following its upset victory over Stanford, USC will attempt to avoid a letdown this week as it heads to Boulder, Colo. to take on the Colorado Buffaloes. The Trojans are 7-0 all-time against Colorado, including a dominant 50-6 victory last season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In USC’s last trip to Boulder in 2011, the Trojans won 42-17.
There were plenty of positives to reflect on from USC’s win over Stanford. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler delivered one of his best performances of the season on Saturday, throwing for 288 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
“He’s improved his fundamentals, his confidence, the way he runs the offense [and] his moxie,” interim head coach Ed Orgeron said. “We believe in him. We love him.”
Junior wide receiver Marqise Lee also delivered a solid performance, hauling in six catches for 83 yards and showing his toughness and resolve late in the fourth quarter.
Lee limped off the field in the fourth quarter after apparently re-injuring his knee, but summoned his strength to come back for one final play: a 13-yard reception on fourth-and-2 that eventually led to junior kicker Andre Heidari’s game-winning field goal.
Lee was helped off the field after his catch and was carted to the locker room after the game among the thousands of fans who rushed the field.
“The fortitude of Marqise Lee was tremendous,” Orgeron said. “He wanted to make that play, and these guys have been tremendous and there’s just a team unity.”
Bring on the Buffs
After the biggest win of the season so far, the Trojans must now shift their focus to the reeling Colorado Buffaloes.
The Buffaloes (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12) are coming into the matchup with some momentum after a 41-24 blowout win over California that gave them their first conference win of the season. Quarterback Sefo Liufau, who assumed the starting job for the Buffaloes midway through the season, threw for 364 yards in the win against the Bears. Liufau is averaging 225 yards per game and has racked up eight touchdowns and six interceptions on the season.
Liufau’s favorite target has been wide receiver Paul Richardson, who averages 120.1 yards per game, good for fourth in the nation.
Colorado struggled last season, finishing with a 1-11 record, but has improved under first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre.
“They look like a lot better team than last year,” Orgeron said.
The game against the Buffaloes falls between an emotional win against Stanford and the final regular-season game against crosstown rival UCLA, but Orgeron insists that the Trojans will stay disciplined and focus on the task at hand.
“We stick to the process. One day at a time,” Orgeron said of his practice plans for the week. “We’ll have a great week of practice and play well on Saturday.”
Don’t know Jack
Since taking over as interim head coach, Orgeron has led the Trojans to a 5-1 record after former head coach Lane Kiffin started the season 3-2. Saturday’s upset over Stanford marked the peak of public support for Orgeron, as evidenced by the popularization of the hashtag #HireCoachO on Twitter and the creation of a “Hire Coach O” website.
Given Orgeron’s recent success, the news that Athletic Director Pat Haden had interviewed current Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and interim head coach and former USC linebacker Jack Del Rio for a head coaching position during the Broncos’ recent bye week came as a surprise to many Trojan fans.
Del Rio was an All-American linebacker at USC and the co-MVP of the 1985 Rose Bowl. He also played baseball for the Trojans.
Before joining the Broncos’ coaching staff, Del Rio was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars for eight-and-a-half seasons, where he posted a 69-72 record.
Del Rio’s name had been in the mix of potential head coaches since Kiffin was fired, along with Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. Last month, reports surfaced that USC would be willing to make its next head coach the highest-paid in the nation, with a salary of $6 million.
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