first_imgHeading into the 83rd meeting between crosstown rivals USC and UCLA, the focus of the game was mainly on the Trojans and interim head coach Ed Orgeron, with many viewing the game as Orgeron’s opportunity to firmly announce himself as the frontrunner to take over as USC’s permanent head coach after the season’s end.By game’s end, however, the spotlight had undoubtedly shifted to UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who turned in a star’s performance in the Bruins’ 35-14 victory, their second straight win over the Trojans and first win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1997.Hundley finished the game with 18 completions on 27 attempts for 208 yards passing, but the redshirt sophomore did most of his damage with his legs, rushing for 80 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns.“He’s a great playmaker,” redshirt senior outside linebacker Devon Kennard said. “We had a great gameplan, but I think it comes down to us missing tackles, and we didn’t execute as well as we can. The coaches put us in a great position. Part of it is him being as good of an athlete as he is, and part of it is us not making the plays we could have made.”UCLA struck first midway through the first quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by linebacker/running back Myles Jack, and extended its lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes. The early deficit proved to be too much for the Trojans to overcome.“We started fast on defense, but we weren’t able to convert that to offense,” Orgeron said. “We didn’t move the chains. We felt we got behind a little bit. We played well in spurts, but the sacks really hurt us.”The UCLA pass rush, led by outside linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Cassius Marsh, took advantage of a depleted USC offensive line after junior center Marcus Martin and redshirt junior offensive guard Aundrey Walker left the game in the first half with injuries. Martin suffered what was described as a serious knee injury, and Orgeron reported after the game that Walker had a broken ankle.Barr and Marsh each finished the game with two sacks, and the Bruins had six overall.“They did a good job rushing. When you have guys like that who are that big and strong, you’re gonna take some hits,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler said. “Obviously it’s never good when you lose two offensive linemen in the same game. It didn’t change [the playcalling] much. We just didn’t execute.”Kessler completed 17 out of his 28 pass attempts and threw for 174 yards and one touchdown, but also lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter that ended what little hope remained for the Trojans to come back.After UCLA scored on its first drive of the second half and extended the lead to 21-7, USC responded with a seven-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kessler to redshirt junior tight end Xavier Grimble, and the momentum appeared to be swinging the Trojans’ way.Immediately following the touchdown, however, USC gave up a 46-yard kickoff return by UCLA return man Ishmael Adams that gave the Bruins good starting field position and led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Hundley. The kickoff return was just one of USC’s many poor plays by the special teams unit, including it the punting game. Redshirt sophomore punter Kris Albarado struggled to punt the ball deep into UCLA territory and allowed the Bruins to have good field position for most of the game.“We knew Ishmael was really good, and we’ve faced some really good kick returners [this year] and we’ve stopped them. Tonight we didn’t,” Orgeron said. “We had a couple of bad punts. We need to correct it and open up the competition. In the past eight weeks, special teams have been lights out. Tonight was not their best game, but overall their body of work was pretty good.”USC had a chance to cut into UCLA’s lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans’ drive was squandered when redshirt sophomore running back Javorius “Buck” Allen fumbled at the Bruins’ 20-yardline with 13:36 remaining. Allen finished the game with 123 rushing yards on 20 carries and one touchdown, his 11th score in his last five games.USC’s next two drives ended in a punt and another fumble, this one by Kessler, and UCLA was able to clinch the victory on running back Paul Perkins’ 8-yard touchdown run with under four minutes remaining, making the final score 35-14.“I’m disappointed, but when think about the overall view and the expectations, I can’t really be that upset,” junior wide receiver Marqise Lee said. “Obviously I’m upset. We wanted to get this win against UCLA. Overall, I’m just grateful that we actually made it this far and got the opportunity to make it to a bowl game.”Amid questions about his NFL Draft decision, Lee insisted that he would wait until after the team’s bowl game to make up his mind and would not speculate on what his decision might end up being. In a similar fashion, Orgeron declined to speculate on what his future with the program might be.“Obviously we are disappointed, especially when you don’t beat UCLA and Notre Dame—that is what a head coach of USC is supposed to do,” Orgeron said. “What the future holds, we don’t know, but I do know this—this group of young men and coaches will always be in my heart. They have grown as a team, and I’m proud of them. Regardless of the situation, we’re Trojans, and we’re going to fight.” Follow Nick on Twitter @NickSelbelast_img read more


first_img Published on November 29, 2015 at 7:31 pm Scott Shafer fought back tears as silence permeated throughout the room. Missy Shafer voiced words of encouragement from the back, helping her husband through his choked-up final words at Syracuse. The often-stern 48-year-old was the most vulnerable he’d been in three seasons as head coach, if only for a minute and 40 seconds.And just like that, as Shafer descended the steps from the podium with haste, the public got its last look at a man who was fired five days prior.“He’s an emotional person, as you know,” Floyd Little said. “I like him as a person. He did the best he could for the most part.”For the most part, it wasn’t good enough. Seven combined wins in the last two seasons. A defense that surrendered 40-plus points in each of its five road games. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on him in two of the last three weeks. The recent demerits leading to Shafer’s demise will, from the outside, define a tenure that seemed to lose hope with each passing week.That’s the side of Shafer most have seen.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHis firing before Saturday’s game against Boston College provided a glimpse into what many haven’t. Parents posted pictures of Shafer in their homes, arms extended around the shoulders of their children and a smile across his face. Players both past and current expressed their support, some saying Shafer was the one who gave them a chance in life.In some ways, Director of Athletics Mark Coyle’s decision took a backseat to the human aspect as the week progressed. Outside the results-driven business of coaching emerged a man with layers beyond a 14-23 overall record.“When we would go to his house in the offseason, he would treat us just like family,” sophomore wideout Steve Ishmael said. “He was never a greedy guy and always treated us great. I love him.”Just after 11 a.m. on Saturday, Shafer trotted onto the Carrier Dome turf for the last time before a game. He spoke with Boston College assistants, aggressively clapped when a manager caught a Riley Dixon punt and chatted with two fans for about a minute before fading into the tunnel.During Senior Day ceremonies, he posed for pictures with the families of 23 players and managers honored. He raised both fists just six seconds into his postgame press conference and the emotion began pouring out. His daughter, Elsa, pressed her head against Missy’s shoulder and his son, Wolfgang, got red in his eyes.“I want to thank the community and the communities both on campus and in Syracuse, especially in Fayetteville,” Shafer said, “and all the people that have been there for Missy and I and helping us raise our two kids for the past seven years.”There are 27 children of coaches on the Syracuse staff. Some, if not most or all, will have to relocate after their fathers were displaced from jobs. The fallout from firing a coach extends beyond the race to find a replacement. It trickles into families and that may be where the brunt of the move is felt most.When Shafer kept Eric Dungey in a blowout against Louisville and the freshman suffered another head injury, Shafer was rightfully lambasted for his reasoning. When he cost Syracuse 15 yards against No. 1 Clemson, he was exposed for not sticking to his mantra of “control the controllables.” When he drew another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct against North Carolina State, he didn’t even wait to be asked about the slip-up before explaining himself.The tension surrounding his job status built up and it was justified.But even if he’s a coach with flaws plastered on him throughout an eight-game losing streak, there’s a human side.Ishmael will remember Shafer most for his enthusiasm and positivity. Zaire Franklin for his fire and emotion. Little for his “hard-nosed” style and ability to inspire. Offensive coordinator Tim Lester for a level of care for players that can’t be found in most coaches.The final evaluations had little to do with football.And after a week, and season, littered with well-documented faults that led to Shafer’s downfall, that’s how he should go out.Matt Schneidman is an Asst. Sports Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at mcschnei@syr.edu or @matt_schneidman. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more