Just who is USC? We all know the story of the tumultuous start to Southern Cal's season. The Trojans started with a 3-1 record that included so-so wins over Hawaii and Utah State and a horrendous 10-7 loss to Washington State. Lane Kiffin then lost his job after a 62-41 debacle at Arizona State on Sept. 28, giving Ed Orgeron the interim head coach label.
Orgeron led USC to a 38-31 win over Arizona last Thursday in the team's first game since the loss to the Sun Devils that sealed Kiffin's inevitable fate. Orgeron was a USC assistant from 1998-2004 before becoming the head coach at Ole Miss for three seasons. He was with the New Orleans Saints for a year before joining Kiffin's staffs at Tennessee and USC for the past four seasons.
Things changed pretty quickly behind the scenes after Orgeron took over. He brought back some things that were staples during the Pete Carroll era - things like cookies and ice cream at the training table that Kiffin had banned.
"I wanted to change the things that I thought needed to change, make the guys a little looser," Orgeron said prior to the Arizona game. "Cookies and ice cream - I'm a lineman, so I knew it would make the guys happy."
"We wanted to bring some music into the meeting rooms and go back to the competition," he continued. A lot of stuff we did with coach Carroll that I thought was fantastic. He brought a lot of energy."
Bigger than cookies and ice cream during the week, the biggest in-game changes came during last week's game. Orgeron went from defensive line coach to head coach, while offensive coordinator Clay Helton took over the play calling duties that Kiffin previously performed.
"Overall I love the game that coach Helton called," quarterback Cody Kessler said after the win over the Wildcats. It allowed us to play fast (with) a lot of shifts and motion."
USC had a balanced offensive attack in the seven-point victory. The Trojans amassed a season-high 546 yards of total offense in the game, Kessler had a career-best 297 passing yards and the team rushed for 249 yards.
The Trojans have been erratic on both sides of the ball through six games.
Kiffin's indecision at quarterback coming into the season could not have helped his situation. The deposed head coach opted to use both Kessler and Max Wittek at quarterback for the first three games before settling on Kessler as the full-time signal caller in the fourth game - a 17-14 win over Utah State.
Kessler has passed for 1,129 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions after throwing both a pair of TDs and interceptions against Arizona. He has completed 60-percent of his 134 pass attempts. Wittek has not played in the last three games, but he has completed 10-of-20 passes for 100 yards and an interception.
Reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Marquis Lee missed last week's game with a knee injury, but he still leads the Trojans with 30 receptions for 385 yards (one touchdown). Nelson Agholor has 18 catches for 353 yards and two touchdowns, while Xavier Grimble has 10 receptions for 127 yards and a score.
USC has 70 scholarship players on its roster, but one of them is former Penn State running back Silas Redd (Penn State had 54 scholarship players in this past weekend's upset of Michigan). Redd missed the first five games of the season with a knee injury before returning against Arizona to run for team-highs of 19 carries and 82 yards.
Tre Madden has been the Trojans' do-it-all back in Redd's absence. Madden has team-highs of 611 yards and 115 carries (5.3 avg). He also has 13 receptions for 198 yards with a total of seven touchdowns. Justin Davis has added 51 carries for 349 yards (6.8) team a team-best six touchdown carries.
Davis had just 42 rushing yards against Arizona, while Madden added just 28, but Madden's lone reception in that game went for a 63-yard touchdown.
Overall the offense is averaging 200.3 rushing yards and 207.7 passing yards for a total of 408 total yards per game. The Trojans are also averaging 28 points per game. The Trojans were averaging just 176 passing yards and 176.5 rushing yards in their first four games prior to playing Arizona State.
USC has looked a bit like Jekyll and Hyde on defense so far this season. The Trojans still rank a respectable 19th in total defense (340.3 yards a game allowed) overall this season, but their ship has taken on a lot of water over the last two games.
The Trojans have surrendered 2,042 yards in their six total games this season and 1,120 of it has come in the last two games against Arizona State (612 yards) and Arizona (508 yards). Arizona State, a team that ran the ball for just 65 yards against Notre Dame, rushed for 261 yards in the game that led to Kiffin's purge.
The 233.2 passing yards a game Southern Cal allows ranks 69th nationally. That number has swollen over the last two games as well after Arizona State (351 yards) and Arizona (363 yards) put up back-to-back big games against Clancy Pendergast's defense.
USC does have seven interceptions this season with one forced fumble, but their offense has also coughed-up the ball nine times, leaving the team at minus-one in turnovers overall.
Linebacker Pullard Hayes and defensive end Leonard Williams are tied for the team lead with 36 tackles. Williams is tied with Morgan Breslin with 7.5 tackles for loss. Breslin and outside linebacker Devon Kennard have 4.0 sacks each with Williams right behind them at 3.5.
Lee has been the main return man for the season. He has eight punt returns for a 5.8 average and five kick returns for a 19.8 average. Agholor and Kevon Seymour handled kickoff returns with Lee out last week.
Kicker Andre Heidari is 5-of-8 on field goal attempts this season. His long is a 52-yarder he made in the season-opener against Hawaii. Kris Albarado is averaging 39.8 yards on 34 punts. He has three punts of 50-plus yards this season.