The story of USC's offense so far this season might best be told by starting with the man who has played only five total snaps. Aadyn Sleep-Dalton wears number 42, hails from Australia, and even if you've watched every USC game this season, you might have missed him.
It would be easy to do so; through the Trojans' three victories that have kicked off the Lincoln Riley era, the USC punter has had only five punts, and three of them were in the fourth quarter with the game already well in hand.
Twice on Saturday night, Sleep-Dalton started to put his helmet on and creep onto the field as USC's offense faced a fourth down near midfield. But on both occasions, Riley went for the first down, and Sleep-Dalton was called off.
"I had the confidence that we were going to convert," Riley said after the game, a win over Fresno State. "Really, I had no hesitation."
For a team with a plethora of new faces among the offense as well as the coaching staff, the one trait that appears to bind USC's offense is that confidence. Whether it comes from nearly 20 years of coaching, one season of playing in Riley's system, or spending the offseason seeing what this combination of talent and scheme can do in practice, every player on that side of the ball is overflowing with a certain bravado that's only been emboldened by recent results.
"We expect to score every time we touch the ball," wide receiver Jordan Addison said. "That's the kind of offense we have. We want to make sure we put up points and keep our foot on their necks and keep going."
In the 45-17 win over the Bulldogs, the Trojans scored 40 or more points for the third straight game and converted all three fourth-down opportunities while scoring their ninth touchdown on 11 first-half drives this season. The 152 points through the first three games is the most the program has scored in its three opening games since 2005, when Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart helped USC score 40 points or more in nine of their 12 games.
The hiring of an offensive-minded coach like Riley, whose offenses at Oklahoma have lived in the top 10 since he took over in 2017, meant one of the first priorities would be taking USC's offense to a new level after the team went 4-8 last season and ranked 65th in the country offensively. Despite a new head coach and new players at starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver, the early returns appear to be more fitting of an offense that's been playing together for years rather than one put together in less than eight months, stitched together by transfers from around the country and buttressed by a system that seemingly has the potential to elevate every player as well as the entire unit.
"I think with this team, with this offense, we have an unlimited ceiling," running back Travis Dye, who transferred from Oregon in the offseason, said. "And I'm willing to go find it."