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USC’s running game, after recent surge, hits road block in win against UCLA

By in Press Enterprise on November 20, 2017

By Joey Kaufman

It sure looked like a safe bet that USC, matched up against UCLA’s woeful run defense, would amass a flurry of yards on the ground in its 28-23 victory on Saturday night.

It did not.

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The Trojans were instead held to 153 rushing yards, the fewest any team had compiled this season against the Bruins, who ranked last in the nation in rush defense through the first 11 weeks, surrendering on average more than 300 yards per game. In fact, only two teams failed to reach 200 yards against UCLA.

“It was one of those nights of tough run sledding,” USC coach Clay Helton said Sunday.

To add to the confounding scene, the Trojans had enjoyed considerable success running the ball in recent weeks, totaling as many as 341 rushing yards in a win at Arizona State last month, then 331 the following week against Arizona.

But against UCLA, their fourth consecutive victory, their production more closely mirrored previous struggles this season, when they were held to 76 yards (2.5 yards per carry) against Notre Dame and 71 yards (1.9 yards per carry) against Texas. The Trojans averaged 3.7 yards per carry Saturday.

Helton highlighted several adjustments made by the Bruins, who frequently loaded the box, bringing safety Adarius Pickett closer to the line of scrimmage to stop the run. He added that he regretted some deeper passes that fell incomplete. They carried potential to ease pressure off the running game. Helton pointed to one, a pass on third-and-11 of USC’s opening drive of the second half, when tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe couldn’t reel in a potential 35-yard catch, Sam Darnold’s […]    

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