Several thousand fans turned out at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday to watch USC’s intrasquad spring football game in new head coach Lincoln Riley’s unofficial debut on the Trojans sideline.
Saturday’s scrimmage — which was televised live on ESPN — was fans’ only opportunity to watch the team practice. Spring practices began March 22, but are otherwise closed to the public.
USC athletics officials announced the crowd as 33,427. Saturday’s scrimmage was free to the public.
The offense beat the defense, 34-30. The scrimmage was also a debut of sorts for new Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams, who came to Southern California as a transfer from Oklahoma, where he was coached and recruited by Riley. Williams tossed two touchdown passes to receiver Mario Williams, another Oklahoma transfer.
“That was a great day,” Riley said. “Today was a great example of a lot of progress that has been made in a really short time. There were some big plays on both sides of the ball. We threw and caught the ball pretty well. The offensive line battled well. And the defense tackled well, a lot of open field tackles.
“Obviously, this is just the beginning, this is just a step. We’re really excited about our progress and the opportunity today to put it on display for our fans.”
Riley, 38, was hired in November to revive the Trojans program. He replaced Clay Helton, who was fired Sept. 13, two days after a 42-28 loss to Stanford. Helton was 46-24 in four full seasons, along with the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, parts of two others and a one-game stint as interim coach in 2013.
Riley was 55-10 in five seasons as the Sooners’ coach, including Big 12 Conference championships in each of his first four seasons.
The Trojans will begin their regular season on Sept. 3, hosting Rice.