Surprisingly, Fresno has more stability at the top than USC
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Fresno State - INSIDE SLANT
USC, Fresno State is hoping coach Tim DeRuyter keeps the door closed to other opportunities.
USC will have its fourth head coach affiliated with the program when the Trojans play the Bulldogs in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22.
Lane Kiffin was fired by USC athletic director Pat Haden five games into the season.
Ed Orgeron took over on an interim basis in the final seven regular-season games.
Haden hired Steve Sarkisian as the permanent coach last week, prompting Orgeron to hastily tender his resignation.
Offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who gave way to Kiffin calling the offensive plays, is now the man in charge before Sarkisian takes complete control.
USC's offense will at least embrace Helton as the team's coach in Las Vegas.
With Helton calling the plays instead of Kiffin, the offense opened up, with quarterback Cody Kessler gaining more confidence each game.
The offense managed only seven points in a home loss to Washington State with Kiffin calling plays early in the season. USC's offense averaged 30 points per game during its 6-2 stretch under Orgeron.
Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has improved the Trojans' defense in his first and only season with the Trojans. USC overpowered Stanford for a 20-17 victory over the Pac-12 champion Cardinal.
Pendergast's defense ranked among the nation's best in scoring defense (21st, 21.3 points per game), total defense (16th, 341.5 yards a game allowed) and rushing defense (19th, 127.1 yards a game allowed).
DeRuyter's specialty is defense. He was Texas A&M's defensive coordinator before taking over the Fresno State program in 2012. He is 20-5 in his two years with the Bulldogs, not because of his defense (which ranks No. 91 nationally) but a potent offense behind senior quarterback Derek Carr.
In his two years at Fresno State, DeRuyter has been rumored to fill the vacancies at Cal, Colorado and USC but he has stayed put.
Fresno State is a couple of plays from being undefeated and notching a BCS bowl berth, but a 62-52 loss at San Jose State ended those hopes.
Despite settling for something less than a BCS bowl, Fresno State welcomes the idea of facing a storied program like USC. The game will be a classic strength vs. strength with USC's defense matched against Carr's prolific offense.
Carr leads the nation with 405.5 yards passing per game. He passed for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.
Kessler could do his best impression of Carr in this game because of Fresno State's pass defense ranking 118th nationally. He has two targets, Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, who will present problems the Bulldogs have not seen this season.