A lot has happened since the last game USC played. It was still September when ASU defeated USC. It was still September when Lane Kiffin was terminated. With the bye week, it seems like it all took place ages ago. The extra time provides a time for reflection and a time for looking forward.
USC’s first five games of the season were also Kiffin’s last five games as USC’s head coach. The defensive statistics have received most of the attention during the season because the defense started out so well. While the lacking offense was lampooned, the offensive statistics did not have as much notice. To set the tone, USC is currently 117th in third down conversion percentage (27.69%) and 118th in third down conversions (18). They are also tied for 14th place in gaining first downs from penalties while being 97th in total first downs at 97. They only gained an average of 19.4 first downs a game and 2.2 come from penalties. Without the help of their opponent’s penalties, it could be much worse.
USC had a total of 70 offensive drives throughout the five games. When accounting for the drives that came before the half, it brings the number down to 65. These 65 drives ended as follows:
3 on failed 4th down attempts (4.6%)
3 missed field goals (4.6%)
4 field goals (6.2%)
3 fumbles lost (4.6%)
6 interceptions (9.2%)
1 safety (1.5%)
28 punts (43.1%)
17 touchdowns (26.2%)
Nearly 68% of the drives that mattered resulted in no points for the offense and 4.6% of them ended up giving points to the opposing team (pick sixes and a safety). As good as the defense has been, the team still sits at a -1 turnover margin because the offense turned the ball over nine times. Despite turnovers being an issue, being unable to convert on third downs is arguably USC’s biggest problem. Interim head coach Ed Orgeron has sought to improve the situation by having a practice “…with an emphasis on third down, cleaning up first and second down.” Hopefully, the team continues to improve in these areas despite the loss of so many scholarship players.
Looking forward, USC officially claims they have not yet contacted anyone with the head coaching position. USC athletic director Pat Haden stated that imposters contacted Tony Dungy and unnamed members of the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff. The whole case is puzzling. Some surmise that USC tried to cover up their embarrassment because of the rejection. That would be a strange move, considering that Ed Orgeron openly admitted former California head coach Jeff Tedford’s rejection of an offensive consultant position. If in fact false representatives of the athletic department did contact them, what was their motive— to cause further embarrassment for USC?
According to coachingsearch.com, Ed Orgeron wants to hire defensive line coach Pete Jenkins. The official word from USC is that the hiring has not yet been finalized.
Breaking: USC’s Ed Orgeron will hire veteran defensive line coach Pete Jenkins. https://t.co/v1pAU8CUzC
— Pete Roussel (@coachingsearch) October 8, 2013
USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron announced the plans to hire Pete Jenkins as an assistant defensive line coach. Hiring not official yet.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) October 9, 2013