Lincoln Riley promises to 'fight my ass off' to improve USC after falling 'below the standard'
Lincoln Riley took the brunt of the blame for USC’s disastrous finish and put it on his shoulders.
A 38-20 loss to UCLA on Saturday brought the Trojans’ season to a close. A 6-0 start to the year was paired with a 1-5 finish. USC lost games to good football teams, but USC entered the year expected to become a great football team. That never quite materialized, and Riley assured USC fans in the postgame he’ll do what is necessary to fix USC’s problems.
“Extremely disappointing to finish this way with how well we started the season. I know our guys are disappointed, coaches are disappointed, I’m disappointed, our fans are disappointed, and they should be,” Riley said. “There’s no excuses, it’s below what we expect here, it’s below the standard and I have to do a much better job. I own all of that and I’m going to fight my ass off in every single way to make sure this thing gets to where it’s supposed to be.”
USC had just 3 rushing yards against UCLA. Quarterback Caleb Williams was sacked four times. The Trojans turned the football over three times, missed a field goal, and turned it over on downs twice. Field position was a constant negative.
USC outgained UCLA for the game, but it also gave up a scoop-and-score touchdown. It was a 38-13 game late in the fourth quarter.
“There’s no way to look at this and say I did any kind of a good job,” Riley said. “I’ve got to be better in every single way possible.”
Riley was asked if USC would look at additional changes — be it personnel or cultural. He said they’d already made one big change, referencing his decision to fire defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
“We knew this was gonna be a climb. We knew that’s what we signed up for,” Riley said. “Everybody wants the clean, smooth road to the top and that’s for the movies. The road to the top is jagged. It’s gonna take its different twists and turns, especially coming from where this was.
“We’ve got to stay together as a program. We’ve got to stay together as a fan base. We’ve got to stay together as a university. This is the tough times that you push through for the great things on the other side of it, and most people, if you’re willing to push through it, you get to those opportunities. Ours are coming.”