As the Trojans continue their preparation for Saturday’s Pac-12 matchup against Colorado, interim head coach Ed Orgeron has emphasized the importance of focusing on the Buffaloes, and not looking further ahead to UCLA.
Now that the team’s 24-hour rule to celebrate the Stanford win has expired, the Trojans are back to work and moving on to the next opponent.
“It’s a challenge, but we are going to stay focused on beating Colorado, and trusting our process,” Orgeron said.
The team is looking to extend its current four-game winning streak in the upcoming matchup with the Buffaloes. During that time, Orgeron says that his players have grown closer as a team.
“They know they’ve built something special, and they want to protect it,” Orgeron said.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler asserted that players have really locked in to Orgeron’s ‘One team, one heartbeat’ mentality.
“We are playing more for each other,” Kessler said. “We’re all buying into Coach O’s methods.”
With player support for the interim head coach pouring in following the team’s recent success, Orgeron expressed his gratitude and appreciation for his team.
“I’d run through a wall for them,” Orgeron said. “That is part of being a family.”
After leading a game-winning drive and throwing for 288 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinal, Kessler received several congratulatory texts, including ones from former USC quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchez.
Kessler, who was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for his stellar performance, also had the opportunity to talk with former USC Hesiman trophy winner Matt Leinart before the game as he led the team out of the tunnel.
“[Leinart] told me that this is where you show them what you can do and this is where legends are born,” Kessler said.
As former Trojans continue to show support for the storied program they were once a part of, Orgeron continues to encourage outside support for his team, a tactic often used by former head coach Pete Carroll.
“Coach O was here when USC was on top, and he brings in guest speakers like Ronnie Lott and Ray Lewis, who are talking directly to me,” Kessler said. “He allows us to play loose and have fun, but we are still focused.”
Kessler credited the fan presence and electricity in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night as a crucial factor in the Trojans’ ability to pull off the upset against Stanford, particularly in making it difficult for the Cardinal on offense.
“The energy helped a lot and made an impact right away, especially with the two timeouts they were forced to call,” Kessler said.
Moving on to Colorado, Kessler reinforced that the team was not going to overlook the 4-6 Buffaloes, who are fresh off a 41-24 win over Cal, their first Pac-12 victory of the season.
“We are going to treat it just like any other game,” Kessler said. “They are just another obstacle, it doesn’t matter who it is.”
Orgeron announced that senior outside linebacker Morgan Breslin underwent surgery for a sports hernia on Tuesday.
Senior running back Silas Redd is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game, while junior wide receiver Marqise Lee and sophomore defensive end Leonard Williams are listed as probable.
Lee hobbled off the field after catching Kessler’s crucial pass on fourth down late in the fourth quarter against Stanford. The catch allowed the Trojans to extend their drive and set up junior kicker Andre Heidari’s game-winning field goal.
Redd has not played since the first half of the Cal game and was missed against Stanford. The Trojans only amassed 23 yards rushing against a stout Cardinal front seven.
Williams has garnered a lot of praise lately, most notably when Athletic Director Pat Haden tweeted that Williams is one of the top five players he’s watched in his time at USC.
Orgeron credited assistant defensive line coach Pete Jenkins for Williams’ season, in which he has recorded five sacks and 62 total tackles. He had seven total tackles against Stanford.
“Williams is a special player,” Orgeron said. “He’s fast, he’s big and he’s very coachable.”
An aggressive pass rush will greatly help the USC defense in slowing down Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau, who threw for a career-high 364 yards last week against Cal.
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