LOS ANGELES — USC’s new no-huddle offense moved up and down the field with speed and efficiency, veterans and talented freshmen adding spectacular accents.
The Trojans’ new defense was mostly stout and created opportunities.
On Saturday at the Coliseum, the No. 15 Trojans looked nothing like an unfocused team after enduring a week of bizarre and inflammatory distractions.
Instead, they gave new coach Steve Sarkisian his first victory, a 52-13 rout of Fresno State.
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“That was fun,” Sarkisian said. “Gosh.”
Quarterback Cody Kessler passed for four touchdowns as the Trojans’ no-huddle offense rolled up 701 yards in 105 plays, a Pac-12 Conference record.
“The best part,” said Kessler, who passed for a career-best 394 yards, “was that it felt like we’ve been playing with Sark for years. It didn’t feel like a new era.”
Preparations appeared interrupted this week after cornerback Josh Shaw’s tale of suffering ankle injuries while saving a potentially drowning nephew last Saturday came crashing down, putting NCAA sanctions-free USC back in the national limelight for another off-the-field controversy. Shaw was suspended indefinitely after his admission to school officials that the story was fabricated, and a police investigation into his involvement in an incident at a downtown apartment complex that night continues.
A day after Shaw’s admission, a post to former player Anthony Brown’s Instagram account accused Sarkisian of racism, a charge denounced by several current and former Trojans players.
But the Trojans did not appear distracted Saturday.