2010 Game #4: USC at Washington State

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5 things USC will want to do on their roadie to Pullman...

1.) Separate from the Pack

Marc Tyler was the clear starting running back at Hawaii.  Dillon Baxter was the leading rusher against Virginia.  Allen Bradford dominated Minnesota.  While Lane Kiffin would prefer a lead dog, he has been forced to settle on an inconsistent trio.  With one more rehearsal before the grind begins, the best back should distinguish himself in the Palouse.

2.) "Stay Positive"

While Kiffin jokes with beat writers about their outlook on life, he delivers the same two-word message to his team about turnover ratio.  Through three fairly comfortable wins, USC is still -1 on the season in turnover margin.  Coming off a two interception afternoon, Matt Barkley should keep it clean in Pullman, while the increased pass rush from the defensive line could spark a turnover outbreak to flip the Trojans into positive territory.

3.) Bubble Boys

Knock on jinx...but the Trojans have stayed fairly healthy so far this season.  Other than Nick Perry aggravating his ankle injury against Virginia, they have not had a player leave the game and not return for health reasons (by my recollection at least).  Starting next week, they will play nine out of 10 Saturdays against physical and often elite competition.  With the natural depth issues, they could use all hands on deck going into that gauntlet.

4.) Take Out the Trash

In all three games, the Trojans have given up a late defensive score during garbage time, which did not change the outcome, but left a bad taste going into the locker room.  For that matter, USC's back-up offense yielded turnovers to set-up scoring drives for Hawaii and Minnesota.  If the first team executes to their potential against WSU, the second squad will get plenty of chances to clean up in the 4th quarter.

5.)  Swagger Jacked

USC can be average and win this game by two or three scores.  They can play poorly and still probably survive.  But they need a great all-around performance to build confidence going into this tough conference slate.  The Trojans were just a 9-4 team last year.  They were blown out twice, which had not happened in nearly a decade.  Then sanctions hit and now three average performances.  If they are going to get revenge on elite teams like Stanford and Oregon this season, they need to regain their swagger first.

Dillon Baxter is still looking to break one.

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The most obvious thing they need to do is stop getting so many penalties. Inexperience or lack of discipline? Either way they need to get this part of the game under control.

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