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USC gets victory but still looks sloppy

USC gets victory but still looks sloppy

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The Pac-12 Conference provided the soft resting place USC needed Friday night as the Trojans snapped their two-game losing streak in a sloppy 39-36 victory at the Coliseum.

Whether or not USC improves each week, the Trojans will likely flourish facing Pac-12 opponents.

"This was a big Pac-12 win, a much-needed win and it was great to be home in the Coliseum,” USC coach Clay Helton said.

Was Helton referring to the Trojans or himself?

He received boos in the Coliseum as the Trojans often appeared lackluster but took advantage of a porous Washington State defense to overcome a 30-17 deficit.

Helton just wanted a victory. But there were many things he needs to fix:

No pressure, no protection

It’s four games into the season and USC cannot pressure the quarterback with its front seven or protect JT Daniels with its offensive line.

Secondary woes surface

Before the season, the secondary was considered a weak spot. And it has been one, especially the past two weeks. Isaiah Langley was a frequent target Friday night but no one is exactly a “lockdown” cornerback, which is distressing since USC has two seniors starting (Ajene Harris, Iman Marshall).

Something is going wrong when you allow 344 yards passing.

Penalty problems

USC had eight penalties two early ones on special teams. Its defensive line also had trouble staying onside.

Defensive confusion

For example, why was linebacker Porter Gustin trying to get players into the right position just before Washington State’s final touchdown? If that wasn’t enough, the Trojans almost had 10 men on the field for the ensuing 2-point conversion.

Poor use of Stephen Carr

Carr gained 56 yards in the first two plays of the game. He did not touch the ball the rest of the first quarter. USC’s attempts to establish were spotty again.

What’s wrong with Toa Lobendahn?

Lobendahn seemed to have trouble snapping when Washington State lined up over center.

A lot of these problems are fixable but that is where the impact of the coaching staff plays a role. USC does not seem to fix its careless errors.

Instead, it relies on the athleticism of players like Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman, Amon-Ra St. Brown and JT Daniels to hopefully overcome whatever else is going wrong.

It is a scattershot approach that doesn’t work against Stanford or even Texas. But it is just enough to get past Washington State.

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