Trojans troubled by inconsistent play in victories
After two games, the Trojans are still searching for their identity.
The results of the first two weeks have been inconclusive. The offense looked explosive against Hawaiâi, then followed up with a dud against Virginia. Conversely, the Trojan defense was full of holes in week one, then held the Cavaliers to 14 points the following game.
For USC coach Lane Kiffin and his first-year coaching staff, the search for identity is a work in progress.
âWeâll continually be in the process of figuring out our team and who we are,â Kiffin said. âWeâve seen two drastically different games from different sides of the ball, so the challenge this week is to put it all together and see if we can play a complete game.â
Redshirt junior tailback Marc Tyler is a good example of that search for consistency. After breaking out for 154 yards in his first start, Tyler (and the rest of the USC offense) relapsed, finishing with 68 yards against Virginia.
Tyler sees âa team that hasnât been consistent on both sides of the ball.
âBut we know we can be,â he said.
Tyler places some of the inconsistency on inexperienced players new roles. Even though he is in his fourth year at USC, he includes himself in that category.
âI donât know if Iâm nervous; itâs just not a lot of game experience,â Tyler said.
However, Tyler said he is getting comfortable in the starting role.
âI feel good now and Iâm ready to have a big game,â he said.
Still, a solid team identity continues to elude the Trojans.
âWe have no idea,â Kiffin said. âIt takes a while to develop identities. Things donât change over night … Itâs a process.â
Kiffin hopes the Trojans will eventually develop into a more forceful team on the gridiron.
âWeâre not disciplined right now,â Kiffin said. âI think weâre tough but I donât think weâre disciplined at all.â
USC has been penalized 24 times for 240 yards, which is the highest total in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Defensive fatigue has been a concern for the Trojans in their first two games, Kiffin said. Since the Trojans were not able to pull away in either contest, the defense started to wear down in the fourth quarter.
âWe donât rotate very much,â Kiffin said. âWeâre going to try to do a little more of that. Weâve been trying to develop our depth.â
As part of the NCAA sanctions, players were allowed to transfer without having to pay the usual price of sitting out a year.
The players that took the opportunity and transferred could have been seeing significant playing time right now. Defensive end Malik Jackson (Tennessee) and fullback D.J. Shoemate (UConn) could have been of great use in backup roles had they stayed with USC.
âItâs hurt us not being able to rotate people,â Kiffin said. âWe go to try to rest a defensive end and our defensive end is starting at Tennessee. We go to rest a fullback and heâs playing at UConn.â
Kiffin said it would be good practice for the Trojans as they become accustomed to playing in a sanctioned program. After all, the Trojans are allowed to have 75 scholarship players under the NCAA ruling but will bring only 53 scholarship players on the road to Minnesota.
Defensive linemen sophomore Nick Perry and junior Armond Armstead were limited in practice for the second day in a row. Kiffin moved up redshirt freshman defensive end James Boyd from the service squad to try to strengthen the teamâs depleted line.
âWeâve got to find some depth for some guys to rotate, number one, and then, if guys get hurt, to really play and have a role for us,â Kiffin said.