The hot-seat meter for USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin has to be near max capacity after a 62-41 road loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday.
Kiffin saw his team fall to 0-2 in Pac-12 play this season, and he will be the fall guy for the disappointing result—even if he wasn't as much to blame in this particular instance.
It is widely known that Kiffin is an offensive-minded coach, having once served as USC's offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll. In that game-planning context, Kiffin did his job well against Arizona State, calling plays that produced a career-high 280 yards passing from sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler, who is still settling into the starting role.
Running backs Tre Madden and Justin Davis combined for 30 carries for 250 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, while Madden added 66 yards receiving and two additional scores.
Superstar receiver Marqise Lee went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter after catching a team-high seven passes for 92 yards:
Marqise Lee had to be helped off the field. Could not put any pressure on his left leg.— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) September 29, 2013
The team did manage to put together a decent fourth-quarter charge and got within 14 points. But it wasn't enough. If given the choice on whether the Trojans rallied around their captain's injury or their coach, most 'SC fans would select Lee as the inspiration for their team's late surge—especially so in light of this photo featuring Lee and Madden:
Kiffin is still in charge of this team and the final product, so pressure will continue increasing for a change at the helm of this storied program.