Focused #8 USC downs Arkansas State 55-6
Arkansas State thought it would be nice to start the 2015 season in sunny Los Angeles, but when they got there, a focused and hungry bunch of Trojans were there to greet them. After USC head coach Steve Sarkisian had to spend time apologizing for his pep rally rant the last couple of weeks, and with the nation’s eyes on Cody Kessler and all of his freshmen teammates, and after watching fellow Pac-12 members get stung by the upset bug, USC came out unfazed and downed Arkansas State 55-6.
USC had too much talent on the offensive side of the ball for Arkansas State to handle. The #8 ranked Trojans did just about whatever they wanted to from start to finish. The Trojans struck early, consistently and quickly. The game was 1:14 old when USC made it’s first airstrike on the Red Wolves via a 61 yard Kessler bomb to Ju Ju Smith-Schuster. USC scored two touchdowns in all four quarters. Those eight touchdown drives took only 12:57 off the clock, although one was a quick fumble return touchdown.
The Trojans were efficient offensively going a combined 23-of-32 passing for 320 yards and four scores. They ran the ball 32 times for 189 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. They had 11 different receivers catch passes. USC also had 13 true freshmen to see action against Arkansas State. The depth of skill that coach Sarkisian has at his disposal this year is going to make USC a serious contender for the Pac-12 title, and a spot in the final four playoff for the National Championship.
As for the Red Wolves, they do have several positives they can take away from the 55-6 loss. They were gashing the Trojan defense throughout the night. They ran 87 plays including 50 touches on the ground. USC only ran 64 plays total. Although that was a perfect mix with exactly 32 pass plays and 32 runs plays. Arkansas State had 401 yards of total offense compared to USC’s 509 yards of offense. They also managed 19 first downs, compared to USC’s 22. Again, the Red Wolves were able to gash the #8 Trojans on the ground with 208 yards on those 50 carries, the problem was the turnovers prevented Arkansas State from capitalizing on there successes.
Two interceptions, two fumbles, and eight penalties for 88 yards kept this from being a respectable score. The Red Wolves were not having much success through the air. Fredi Knighten was 8-for-23 with 86 yards and two interceptions. The team was 17-of-37 for 193 yards through the air. They were also 6-for-19 on 3rd down conversions.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Red Wolves can be proud of their effort against the #8 ranked team as they sacked Cody Kessler five times in the fist half. True freshmen Tajhea Chambers had eight tackles and 2.5 sacks. Again, the good effort was nullified by four tunrovers, two of which turned into USC points, and 88 yards lost on penalties. Combine the mistakes with the fact that your playing a very skilled offensive bunch in the #8 ranked USC Trojans in the Coliseum, and your not going to have a very good experience.
USC hosts Idaho next Saturday while the Arkansas State Red Wolves come back home to Jonesboro to play their second straight ranked opponent, the #24 ranked Missouri Tigers. The L.A. experience will be a good learning lesson for the Red Wolves and second year head coach Blake Anderson. They played by far the toughest opponent they will see all year and came away with several positives. They should be more prepared for upcoming Sun Belt play and the 24th ranked Tigers come this Saturday. While there is still a lot to figure out about this 2015 edition of the Red Wolves, one thing we know for certain, the hometown crowd is ready to greet their Arkansas State Red Wolves come this Saturday in Jonesboro, and the newly renovated Centennial Bank Stadium will be rocking at it’s capacity.
How will Arkansas State fare against border rival #24 Missouri this weekend? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Brandon Reid covers NCAAF and Arkansas State for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid