For the second week in a row the Trojans will match up against a less talented team they are expected to beat — this time, the Boston College Eagles. Unlike the Washington State Cougars and their air raid attack, however, the Eagles feature a power run offense, mirroring the tactics of traditional SEC squads. USC head coach Lane Kiffin, even among rampant cries for his dismissal, is excited for that challenge and believes it should be a good test for his squad, which is trying to rebound from its shocking loss to Washington State last weekend.
“They have a great physical running back and the offensive line is well-coached,” Kiffin said about the Eagles. “They have a great playmaker at receiver and an extremely mobile defense. They’re heavy on the run and try to open it up with the play action. It’s a Stanford type of offense.”
The Trojan defense has played phenomenally up to this point under the direction of the new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, but this week, it will face its toughest test yet against Boston College tailback Andre Williams. The senior is averaging 5.5 yards a carry this season, but will most certainly be going up against the most talented defense he’s seen this season on Saturday.
Though the Eagles certainly have a number of playmakers on offense, most Trojan fans will have their eyes glued to the USC offense to see if it can rebound after an awful performance against Washington State.
That was the simple message delivered to quarterback Cody Kessler from Kiffin on Sunday night when he told the redshirt sophomore he would be Trojans’ starter going forward, ending the indecision that seemed to plague the offense in its first two games.
“I’m not trying to make excuses, but those first two weeks I would be lying if I said it wasn’t affecting me,” Kessler said. “It’s tough to focus on winning the game when you’re worrying about other things. [Being named the starter] instills a confidence I didn’t have in the first two weeks.”
The news is obviously a dream come true for Kessler, but he quickly needs to turn his attention to fixing up the anemic USC offense, which has mustered just 226 total passing yards during the Trojans’ first two games of the 2013 season against Hawai’i and Washington State.
“I don’t feel accomplished those last two games when [I didn’t] play like [I] wanted to,” Kessler said. “It’s great everyone’s behind me, and now we’re ready to go.”
Possibly the most concerning number for the Trojans from the game against the Cougars is 27.
Twenty-seven is the number of yards that Heisman hopeful Marqise Lee had Saturday, far below his baseline productivity from last season. Questions and concerns have been swirling about the standout junior wideout and how Kiffin is wasting his talents calling screen after screen, picking up only a handful of yards at a time.
Lee, however, does not seem at all flustered, either about his performance or Kiffin’s playcalling.
“I’ll keep running screens or doing whatever Kiffin and the coaches need me to do,” Lee said. “It’s not about [getting Lee the ball more often], it’s more about involving everyone else.”
One thing Lee touched on after practice was how great the last two days have been for the Trojans and how focused everyone has seemed following the loss. Aiding in that cause, in Lee and Kiffin’s opinion, is a players-only meeting that was conducted Sunday.
“We had an open conversation and some guys said the things they haven’t been able to say,” Lee said.
When asked if the players were worried about the crowd chanting “Fire Kiffin” on Saturday, Lee did not seem phased.
“Kiffin’s gonna be there,” Lee said. “I don’t pay attention to it … As a team we’re going to continue to do what we’ve got to do.”