USC Football: 5 Startling Statistics from Trojans' 2013 Campaign
Five games into the 2013 campaign, USC is sitting on a disappointing 3-2 record that cost their head coach, Lane Kiffin, his job.
Meanwhile, the Trojans' frustrated fanbase now finds its time being idled away with speculative banter about who will be tabbed to lead the men of Troy going forward instead of celebrating the Cardinal and Gold's exploits on the field of play.
How did the Trojans get themselves into such a mess?
Well, they say statistics don't lie, and in reviewing the first third of the season, several things stick out.
This slideshow will look at the mediocrity that has defined USC's season so far.
Unranked and floundering under the weight of a season in turmoil, here are five startling statistics that the Trojans have served up in 2013.
Note: All statistics supplied by http://www.ncaa.com/stats/football/fbs and are current as of 10/6/2013.
USC Still Can't Get out of Its Own Way When It Comes to Making Mistakes
In a season when the Trojans knew things would have to go right in order to succeed in 2013, very little has, and USC has no one but itself to blame in at least one area of its game.
Hearkening back to 2012, when USC was one of the most penalized teams in the nation, the Trojans have unfortunately picked right up where they left off last season.
Ranked a pathetic 95th in the nation in penalties per game, the Trojans are averaging more than seven infractions per contest.
Whether it is an untimely hold or an inopportune personal foul, the only things dirtier than the Trojans' uniforms after the game are the referee's hankies.
At Least the Defense Has Played Well at Times This Season
Not all has been doom and gloom in 2013 for USC, and one of the bright spots this year for the Trojans has been the play of their defense.
Particularly stout against the rush, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's team finds itself ranked 15th in the nation in that department, allowing less than a 100 yards per contest.
But not all is rosy for the defense, as their last game against Arizona State produced horrific numbers when the Sun Devils ran all over USC in the "debacle in the desert."
If the Trojans have any hopes of turning 2013 around, they will have to return to the dominant rush defense seen prior to the ASU game.
Another Area Where the Defense Has Shined Is Tackles for Loss
It seems such a shame that in a season where the defense has played so well—for the most part—USC simply has not been able to put together a complete effort from their team.
Case in point, prior to the Arizona State game, USC was in the top five nationally when it came to tackling their opponents for loss, and even after that dismal performance, they are still the 11th-best team in that category.
Now with a bye to rest their weary defense after ASU embarrassed them, USC will have to hope that this portion of the defense finds some earlier magic.
Otherwise, a bad season could get much worse.
The Offense Has Been Abysmal, Especially When It Comes to Converting Third Downs
With the exception of the Arizona State game, USC's problems have not been on defense. Rather, the disappointment of 2013 can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the offense.
Led by the erratic Cody Kessler at quarterback and extremely thin at wide receiver, USC has often looked confused on that side of the ball. This is apparent when you look at the Trojans' inability to sustain drives.
That sad fact becomes glaringly apparent when one looks at USC's futility in converting third downs where the Trojans are only better than eight teams in that department.
It is difficult to sustain drives when you can't get a new set of downs. This has been haunting the Trojans all year long.
It's Tough to Convert Third Downs When You Have a Mile to Go
Of course, extenuating circumstances always prevail when analyzing statistics. This is certainly the case when one looks at why USC seems to have difficulty converting those pesky third downs.
Often facing long third-down conversion attempts, the offense finds itself far too often facing insurmountable odds in keeping that portion of the team on the field.
The reason for this can be found in the fact that an often-ineffective offensive line has made like a sieve and let their opponents into the backfield, where they have wreaked havoc with an already shaky offense.
Tied for 98th in the nation in tackles-for-loss allowed, the offensive line has whiffed with alarming regularity when it comes to blocking the men in front of them.
All of this makes for an inconsistent offense that has been a mighty disappointment in 2013.
What you have read in this slideshow represents five statistics—some good, some bad—that have accompanied USC on their way to that disappointing 3-2 record.
However, those statistics are not the only ones that have guided the Trojans to that numerical mediocrity.
And you wonder why the Trojans have looked so poor on that side of the ball?
When all is said and done, new interim head coach Ed Orgeron certainly has his work cut out for him if he hopes to turn USC's season around.
If he does, you can believe that the statistics featured here will do a turnaround.
All of that will make for a much happier slideshow next time for Trojans fans.