If USC’s loss to UCLA on Saturday was once certainly Caleb Williams’ remaining recreation as a faculty soccer participant, it’s laborious to not really feel like Lincoln Riley and the Trojans wasted the profession of probably the most best possible quarterback skills in contemporary reminiscence.
It was once a recreation like such a lot of others for the Trojans this season. Williams, in spite of taking an abundance of hits and getting no lend a hand from his protection, did the entirety he may to stay USC within the recreation. He threw for 384 yards, together with a highlight-reel 74-yard landing to Brenden Rice. Nevertheless it simply wasn’t sufficient because the Trojans fell 38-20 to near out the common season with an inexplicable 7-5 file.
Williams, after following Riley to USC from Oklahoma, gained the Heisman Trophy remaining 12 months and just about led the Trojans to the Faculty Soccer Playoff in Riley’s first season working this system. Expectancies had been sky-high when the 2023 season started, so a 7-5 file was once a surprising conclusion for the staff being quarterbacked by way of the prospective No. 1 pick out in subsequent 12 months’s NFL Draft.
Getting into the season, the concept was once that the go back of Williams in Riley’s offense plus a protection that was once upgraded by way of the switch portal would permit USC to ascend to the highest of the game. However the protection, which remaining 12 months ranked 124th out of 131 FBS groups in yards in step with play allowed and regarded find it irresistible hadn’t spent a unmarried drill training tackling, handiest confirmed marginal growth in spite of having higher skill, and the staff’s unsustainable turnover price that helped them win such a lot of video games in 2022 simply didn’t lift over to 2023.
Regardless of that, Williams and the offense had been in a position to do sufficient to propel the Trojans to a 6-0 get started. However issues fell aside when the agenda were given harder. The protection failed Williams time and again.
The downhill spiral started with an unpleasant highway loss to Notre Dame (by which Williams wasn’t innocent as he threw 3 first-half interceptions) and was once adopted up by way of a house loss to an injury-plagued Utah staff beginning a former walk-on at quarterback.
The Trojans were given again within the win column the following week at Cal, however they wanted 50 issues to do it and handiest escaped with a 50-49 victory by way of preventing a two-point conversion within the ultimate minute. USC returned house to stand undefeated Washington per week later, and the protection that gave up 49 issues and 500-plus yards to Cal had no probability in opposition to the undefeated Huskies. Dillon Johnson ran wild for UW, racking up 256 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 52-42 win.
It was once handiest after that loss — the 9th time USC had allowed 500-plus yards and 40-plus issues within the remaining two seasons — that Riley in the end made up our minds to fireplace defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who he had introduced with him from Norman.
It was once method too past due. Riley can have changed Grinch after the 2022 season. However by the point Riley fired his friend, USC’s probabilities of attending to the CFP had been already dashed, and the loss to Washington successfully ended the Trojans’ hopes of returning to the Pac-12 name recreation at the same time as Williams post video game-like numbers on a weekly foundation.
USC was once then crushed soundly at the highway by way of Oregon, however there was once no less than a glimmer of hope that Williams may cross out with a competition win at house. UCLA had simply misplaced 17-7 to a foul Arizona State staff and rumors had been swirling that trainer Chip Kelly might be on his method out.
Nevertheless it was once the Bruins who got here out motivated and the Trojans who regarded downright bored to death in a 38-20 recreation that was once extra lopsided than the overall ranking would point out.
Now, until Williams pulls a shocker and comes to a decision to play in USC’s bowl recreation, he has performed his ultimate school soccer recreation, leaving Riley at an unfamiliar crossroads early in his tenure with the Trojans.
USC is 7-7 in its remaining 14 video games and Riley has primary questions to respond to because the Trojans transition into the Giant Ten. When he arrived, Riley needed to overhaul the roster to get the Trojans aggressive in 2022. Taking a look again, the Trojans over-achieved relative to their skill stage due to Williams and the offense.
The deficiencies USC gained despite from remaining 12 months had been on complete show all season lengthy and this all appears like a significant alternative wasted with Williams shifting directly to the NFL with no need gained a convention name or creating a unmarried CFP look.
And now Riley could have to make some vital changes to his program. The Oklahoma program he inherited from Bob Stoops had gained no less than 10 video games in 14 of the former 17 seasons sooner than he become head trainer. Riley didn’t need to do any of the foundational rebuilding that incessantly comes with changing into a head trainer.
Riley is in a special state of affairs at USC and gained’t have Williams to bail him out shifting ahead. Riley’s skill to increase superb offenses gained’t all of sudden disappear with out Williams, however a extra wholesale audit of his program — and the way he operates it — is also so as this offseason.
— Sam Cooper
Those 2 former Energy 5 coaches deserve some props
A couple of ex-Energy 5 coaches are main their colleges to heights they have not noticed in a long time.
We’ll get started with New Mexico State trainer Jerry Kill because the Aggies pocketed just about $2 million whilst drubbing Auburn 31-10 on Saturday.
The Tigers scheduled NMSU as a very easy opponent forward in their annual season-ending Iron Bowl matchup in opposition to Alabama. As a substitute, the Aggies led for almost everything of the sport and nearly doubled up Auburn’s overall yardage output. Within the win, New Mexico State ran for 213 yards and held Auburn to only 65 yards at the floor.
The victory was once New Mexico State’s 7th immediately because the Aggies are 9-3 and heading to the Convention USA name recreation of their first 12 months within the convention.
Till 2023, New Mexico State hadn’t gained 9 video games in a season since an 11-0 marketing campaign in 1960. That New Mexico State staff was once a member of the Border Intercollegiate Athletic Affiliation at the side of Arizona, Arizona State and UTEP and beat Utah State within the Solar Bowl.
That 1960 season was once additionally the remaining time New Mexico State have been to back-to-back bowl video games. The Aggies went to the Solar Bowl after each the 1959 and 1960 seasons after which did not make the postseason once more till an Arizona Bowl win in 2017.
The Aggies made the Fast Lane Bowl a season in the past after profitable their ultimate two video games to get bowl eligible. If NMSU beats Jacksonville State to get to ten wins forward of a rematch with Liberty within the CUSA name recreation, it will have to get a forged bowl slot in opposition to a just right opponent in 2023.
It is a exceptional flip of occasions for NMSU, which gained seven video games mixed within the 4 seasons sooner than Kill’s arrival. The Aggies have greater than doubled that since, going 16-9 beneath Kill.
Kill has gained anyplace he is been, whether or not it was once Saginaw Valley State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois or Minnesota. However Kill hadn’t held a head-coaching function since 2015, when he needed to step clear of the Minnesota activity because of well being problems. He has principally held off-field roles since then however did not omit trainer. He simply wanted any other alternative, and New Mexico State was once there to offer. It has paid off.
At UNLV, former Missouri trainer Barry Odom has the Rebels at the precipice in their first 10-win season since 1984 after a 31-27 win at the highway at Air Drive in Week 11. The Rebels are on my own atop the Mountain West at 6-1 within the convention, and freshman QB Jayden Maiava threw for 339 yards in opposition to the Falcons as UNLV scored the overall 17 issues of the sport.
Odom is in his first 12 months in Las Vegas after he was once Arkansas’ defensive coordinator for 3 seasons following his firing from Missouri. One among his first strikes at UNLV was once to rent Bobby Petrino as his offensive coordinator, however the former Arkansas trainer left for a similar place at Texas A&M not up to a month after Odom employed him.
That has labored out OK for UNLV. Texas A&M is in search of a brand new trainer in 2024 after firing Jimbo Fisher, and UNLV’s offense has been nice this season beneath new coordinator Brennan Marion.
The Rebels are averaging 36 issues in step with recreation and feature failed to damage 30 issues simply 3 times this season. UNLV averages over six yards a play as Ricky White has emerged as probably the most best possible extensive receivers within the nation. White has 71 catches for 1,197 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Odom took over a UNLV program that hadn’t gained greater than 5 video games in a season in a decade and have been to only 3 bowl video games previously 30 seasons. And now the Rebels are a win clear of their first look within the Mountain West championship recreation.
UNLV faces San Jose State in Week 13 and the winner of that recreation will most probably play the winner of Boise State vs. Air Drive for the Mountain West name. If UNLV wins, it’ll get to host the MWC name recreation at Allegiant Stadium and be able for the primary 12-win season in program historical past.
— Nick Bromberg