USC coach Clay Helton guarding against potential post-Stanford letdown
By Joey Kaufman
LOS ANGELES — For USC, it has rarely been easy to face Stanford over the past decade.
It also hasn’t been easy to face the next opponent.
In the three previous seasons, the Trojans matched up Stanford four times and went 1-3 against the Cardinal.
They also went 1-3 in their subsequent games, including one loss in 2014 as a 17-point favorite at Boston College.
USC coach Clay Helton acknowledged the challenge of recovering after playing the Cardinal, a physical foe that has made for a formidable rival. There are injuries afterward, what some college football analysts term the “Body Blow Theory.” There can be an emotional letdown too.
Helton contrasted the situation to last season, after the Trojans prepared to face UCLA after their late-season upset of then-No. 4 Washington in Seattle.
“It feels like that same thing this week,” Helton said. “Not only did you just come off a physical battle, where you have three or four injuries, where it’s going to be next man up, but you also have to make sure you don’t get comfortable, you don’t settle, you have to have the mental focus and preparation to execute a game plan.”
The Trojans are two-touchdown favorites over Texas in the teams’ nonconference game Saturday.
USC’s defense could also see as many as three of its players who started against Stanford sidelined.
Junior Porter Gustin, who underwent surgery for a fracture in his big toe on Wednesday, has been held out of practice, as has freshman defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu, who has a knee sprain.
Sophomore Connor Murphy would start in place of Gustin.
Linebacker John Houston, who has a stinger in his neck, did practice Thursday, but was limited.
“He’s starting to make some progress,” Helton said, “but right now he is still day to day.”
ON THE LINE
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