Wolf: Here are 10 things USC needs to fix to beat UCLA
By Scott Wolf
LOS ANGELES — USC could beat UCLA even if it did not fix all its problems from last week. But the Trojans do not want to lose a third game and that might happen in a Pac-12 title game or bowl game if some of its sloppy aspects are not eliminated.
So with that in mind, here are 10 things USC needs to fix to beat UCLA:
1. Control Jack Jones: In the past two games, cornerback Jack Jones received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. USC coaches have been unable (or unwilling) to get Jones to play with composure.
“It’s not high school anymore, nobody cares what you say after the play,” USC secondary coach Ronnie Bradford said in reference to Jones’ penchant for trash talking.
“Obviously, we’ve had some good conversations about that,” defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said about Jones’ penalties.
Does anyone believe Jones will change for the emotional crosstown rivalry?
2. Tighten up the secondary: Did you see that 79-yard touchdown pass USC surrendered against Colorado? Jones gave up two touchdown passes. But USC coach Clay Helton said the game was never in doubt because it was always at least a two-possession game in the second half. This mindset would not survive in the SEC.
3. Play Ronald Jones on fourth down: Even 10 games into the season, USC is still running short-yardage plays near the goal line with its star tailback on the sideline.
It also happened memorably against Texas, but that was in September. For it to occur now is unforgivable.
4. Cover the end zone: Colorado’s tight end was completely uncovered in the corner of the end zone but quarterback Steven Montez missed him. This would not be a big deal except it also happened against Stanford, Texas, Washington State, Oregon State, to name a few other games.
I guess Pendergast is still working on it.