USC Football: What Do the Trojans Need to Fix During Their Bye?
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If any team needed a bye now more than ever, it's the USC Trojans.
Center Khaled Holmes is presumably healing from an ankle injury. We'd comment more on that but we don't want to upset the higher-ups at USC by speculating on an injury: Even though Holmes was carted off the field during the Syracuse game and then missed the game against Stanford the following week.
Holmes did play against Cal last week but he was clearly limping in the second half and eventually he left the game after a player fell on his (presumed) injured ankle.
Again, we saw him in pain—his ankle was looked at by USC's trainers—but officially, we know nothing.
Everything is hunky-dory in La La Land.
Which pressing matter should USC address as a first priority?
The Trojans get a bye this week, so this is as good a time as any to address the needs of the Trojans before they play Utah on October 4th.
Update the playbook.
Better yet, just turn to page two.
Whatever excitement USC offered its fans last year has been missing this year. Predictable play-calling has become the norm. It's almost like Jeremy Bates walked through the door, planted himself on the sidelines and installed a direct line to Matt Barkley's helmet.
Have Marqise Lee and Robert Woods wash more dishes.
Former receivers and tight ends understand what "wash more dishes" means but in layman's terms, it's getting those hands soft for a better grip on and feel for the ball. It's all about the soft hands.
We know how gifted Lee and Woods are but they've dropped a lot of catchable balls. Maybe they spoiled Trojan fans after last year's spectacular performances. Maybe Barkley isn't throwing the same ball. For all we know, he may have an undisclosed injury.
Scratch that. We couldn't possibly know that.
Have the first, second and third team's left side of the offensive line practice more.
The left side of the O-line played better against Cal but Cal doesn't have nearly the D-line that Stanford has. To say the O-line has improved is not necessarily true.
If a duck hunter only shoots one duck after spending an entire day outdoors but the next day shoots 50 ducks in an indoor shooting gallery, has he really improved?
USC has depth problems all over but the only way they can address the issue is by giving reserves more reps in practice, specifically on the left side. The more they practice, the more productive they'll be during game day substitutions.
Go deep on 2nd-and-1.
Now that the Trojans have established a running game...against Cal, perhaps the Utah Utes will be equally generous in escorting the Trojans through their defense.
Of course head coach Lane Kiffin will want to run the ball against the Utes' 28th-ranked rushing defense. The visor likes smash-mouth football. But what about the Utes' 56th-ranked pass defense?
This week is the week to practice all those 2nd-and-short yardage plays. The Utes will expect the run. The fans will expect the run. The world will expect the run. Go deep and keep Utah guessing.
Dare I say it: Whatever Jeremy Bates would have called, do the opposite.
Have Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd carry a ball in their hands to school.
Fumbles have been a problem for Tailback U. USC's current turnover margin is plus-.5. Meh.
When a Trojan tailback gets the ball and goes downfield, fans shouldn't be holding their breath wondering if the ball will come loose. It's become a habit. Time to go cold turkey. And when they're done carrying the ball, wash it. Real good.
It's all about soft hands.
What's the deal with George Farmer?
Just where is George Farmer? The former Rivals 5-star recruit is now a sophomore and has been curiously absent from view. Farmer was dinged up during spring practice—Kiffin at one point wanted him to switch from receiver to tailback. But Silas Redd saved the day with his transfer from Penn State so we can only assume he's back in the receiver rotation.
According to this depth chart, Farmer backs up Lee and is third behind Woods. Last year Farmer had four catches for 42 yards. So far this year, he has one catch for seven yards.
If Kiffin was going to redshirt him, why even have that one catch? More concerning is that nothing is coming out of USC regarding his status. Is he still hurt?
Never mind. I shouldn't have even asked that.
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