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With ‘great confidence’ USC Trojans easily win over Rice Owls, opening Lincoln Riley era

Los Angeles – The Lincoln Riley-era grand opening at USC kicked off with the familiar new logo on the visor and lots of fireworks from old and new.

USC rallies thanks to a clinical debut by quarterback Caleb Williams and three interceptions returned for touchdowns by defense as the Trojans beat Rice 66-14 on Saturday in the season opener. , scoring the most points in a game since 2008.

“We know this is just the beginning and there’s a lot more to come. “It’s a great start. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Even if Riley didn’t want to inflate the result, the game couldn’t have gone any better for him. There was 12:21 left in the fourth quarter just after the offensive starter was ejected.

“I think we have a lot of confidence,” said Williams, who moved from Oklahoma after Riley was hired.

Williams’ debut brought the most anticipation of the new Trojans heading into the season opener, but it’s been hard to see the kind of pressure or anticipation affecting him. I was so comfortable inside that I was able to complete 19 of my 22 pass attempts (best by a USC quarterback since Matt Barkley in 2012). The Trojan was caught this offseason: Biletnikov winner Jordan Addison.

“Since he got here, it’s been like we’ve been throwing each other all year,” Williams said. “It was easy.”

It all seemed easy for Williams, using his scrambling ability to dance the rice defense and dancing to the tune of 68 rushing yards on six carries. Williams appeared to barely sweat through his three-quarters and when Riley felt it was time to pull him out of the game, he did his best to keep playing.

“Oh, I didn’t want to come out, so I was just trying to get off before someone bumped into me and play as smart as possible.”[Riley] “I know you’re trying to stay in the game.”

“I’m not a freshman anymore,” Riley joked in the media room.

For all the attention on USC’s powerful offense, the surprise of the game was its defense. The unit entered the season with the most questions regarding its depth and talent. He started the game by allowing two long drives for touchdowns, but then woke up in a big way with four interceptions — sophomore Karen Block, a transferred linebacker from Alabama. Shane Lee, his three TDs by senior linebacker Larengo Force included.

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said, “Today it came true. “There are things you can only do in practice, and that’s important. No one talks about practice more than I do. But in the end, it’s all about being on stage. I have to get out.”

Addison and Williams were the protagonists, but many other transfers and freshmen were also making an immediate impact. was recorded.

In at least one game against inferior opponents, USC didn’t look like a team overhauled with 40+ new players in the offseason. Instead, the Trojans put it all together and scored more points than any game under former head coach Clay Helton.

“It’s definitely a statement and that’s what we wanted to do,” Addison said. We are ready.”

Neither Riley nor any of the players forgot the importance of the journey to the long-awaited first game under the new administration. USC announced that he had over 60,000 fans at his Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, which can hold 78,647 people, as temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees.

“We understand that in this city and I think it’s fair. We have to prove who we are as a team,” Riley said. “As a team, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure people can’t even bear the thought of not coming to USC football games.”

Adds Oklahoma Transfer wide receiver Mario Williams: “This is a new era, this SC.”

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