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Wolf: 10 things USC needs to fix against Oregon State

By in Press Enterprise on October 5, 2017

By Scott Wolf

LOS ANGELES — USC’s loss to Washington State was such a model of underachievement, an almost-endless list could be compiled to note the Trojans’ shortcomings.

Instead, this will stop at 10. Here is what USC needs to fix against Oregon State. USC will win even if they don’t against the lowly Beavers. But they need to fix these things to beat the other teams on the schedule.

1. Wake up the coaching staff: Is the McKay Center a velvet coffin? Does anyone feel a sense of urgency? The offense is in full meltdown and USC coaches are acting like nothing needs to change. Did it ever occur to anyone to play running backs Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr together? Does USC know how to let its tailbacks run pass routes? Where is Plan B?

Sam Darnold ran a quarterback sneak on first-and-10 in the fourth quarter, supposedly because Clay Helton thought it was fourth-and-1. Maybe someone else should have noticed.

It’s a nice get-out-of-jail-free card to have the nation’s best clutch quarterback. But you don’t need to use it every week.

2. Be more demanding of the players: How long do some players get to play without getting better or avoiding the same mistakes? I won’t mention names but I can think of some freshmen who might deserve a chance to be plugged into the lineup based on the mediocre play at some positions. Too many returning players are never made to feel uncomfortable.

Instead, Clay Helton often seems to reward experience. Remember, it took three games before he benched Max Browne.

3. Don’t over-pursue on defense: Did you see Washington State tailback Jamal Morrow’s 1-yard touchdown run, where he went left and then cut to his right? There were no USC players in the area and Morrow waltzed into the end zone.

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