Coach Orgeron addressed the media shortly after his team's 14-10 loss against Notre Dame, suffering the first loss under center much to the same tune of Lane Kiffin against Washington State in both their second games.
"We are not going to blink an eye. We're going to keep on fighting. We're going to keep on practicing," said Orgeron, who refused to even acknowledge the injuries or depth issues. "We are going to bounce back. This was game two of our season. Utah, game three, here we come."
On that humbling note, let's take a look back at the 85th edition of this intersectional rivalry that Notre Dame has now won three of the last four meetings under Brian Kelly. The long story short is the fact that USC has now lost to its most fierce rivals UCLA and Notre Dame in three straight games dating back to last season.
Stars In South Bend
Working alongside Marqise Lee for the first time in three weeks, Nelson Agholor shined as the Trojans go-to wide receiving threat racking in six catches for 89 yards. He also recorded 100 punt return yards, including two huge returns to swing the field position for USC trying to spark some life into the offense. One of his big plays sparked a 46-yard field goal from Andre Heidari in the second quarter.
Returning to the Midwest for the first time since his days in the Big 10 confernce, Silas Redd showcased why he was the Trojans leading rusher last season. Finishing with 112 yards on 19 carries in a strong performance, the senior running back put on a show in open space by utilizing some elusive cut-back moves but could not get into gear during a frustrating second half of offense.
Cravens came up clutch in the opening drive of the game, halting Cam McDaniel in the backield to force a turnover on fourth and goal. He quickly followed that up by recovering a fumble in Notre Dame territory, returning it to the 34-yard line in the midst of his six-tackle performance on the night.
The Punting Game In General
Not only did Kris Albarado continue his prolific play on offense, but Nelson Agholor shined amongst a strong performance from the punt return game. For Albarado, the reigning Pac-12 Special Teams player of the week, finished with three punts inside the 20-yard line while averaging 37 yards a boot flipping field position all night long.
Duds Across The Board
USC Passing Defense
Returning back to action in the much-maligned Trojan secondary, Anthony Brown did not provide the saving grace against Tommy Rees, who came into the game completing just 41 percent of his passes. Brown was beat over the top on at least three occasions, but was amongst an entire unit that struggled to win match ups in one-on-one situations down the sideline while playing soft coverage.
Offensive Line Play
The Trojans running game was off and running in the first half, but poor pass protection in the second half made matters rather tough for the USC offense. In the midst of a penalty-riddled second half, Stephon Tuitt was dominating all three interior line men in Aundrey Walker, Marcus Martin and Max Tuerk. As we know, Cody Kessler does not deal with pressure well and on this night the pass protection was not up to the task of the physical Notre Dame defensive line.
Moving The Chains
It started right according to plan on the opening drive as the Trojans went 2-2 on third-down attempts on a 96-yard drive. That seemed a far distant memory by games end, after failing to convert on the final 11 third-down attempts. Not only did USC come up short, the game plan itself revolved around short underneath passes looking to extend drives by making plays in open space, which resulted in only one second-half first down.
What Happened To Heidari
Heidari finished 1 of 3 on field goal attempts, with his two misses ultimately costing USC the chance for victory over their intersectional rival. You hate to pin a loss on moment, but the entire drive that ended with a hooked field goal wide right doomed the Trojans offense during what would have been a momentum-building drive. Interestingly enough Heidari has now gone 1 of 6 on FG attempts outside of 30 yards this season, shocking given his First-Team All-Pac12 campaign just two years prior.