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USC's 'sole focus' is on Oregon State

9/24/2014

There will be a lot of anticipation at the Coliseum on Saturday to see how the USC Trojans respond to the Boston College loss two weeks ago.

The matchup against Oregon State will be the first opportunity for the Trojans, who were on bye last week, to get back on the field after suffering the surprising loss, something that USC coach Steve Sarkisian said has its plusses and minuses.

"It was good for our players to get a chance to sit around and watch some college football on Saturday, kind of get refreshed," Sarkisian said. "But you also hear about the loss more with the bye week, I think we all welcomed the chance to come back to work and have our sole focus be on Oregon State."

One of those focuses will be on the offensive side of the ball after Sarkisian said last week that the bye week might be a time to take a look at the identity of the USC offense, to be a run-to-pass team or a pass-to-run team. The Trojans coach provided few details as to the results of his offensive self-evaluation, only to say the team is fortunate to be able to run multiple styles of offense.

"We've got a great game plan and I can't wait to execute it on Saturday," Sarkisian said.

Undoubtedly one element of the plan will be figuring out the best way to attack the veteran Beavers' defense, one that features eight seniors and three juniors in the starting line-up. Oregon State currently ranks in the top 10 nationally for five different defensive categories, including first in both pass efficiency defense (67.0) and third-down conversion defense (.231) and sixth in total defense (255.0).

Granted, the USC offense should be a step up from previous Beavers' opponents -- Portland State, Hawaii and San Diego State -- but a defense that is familiar with each other can play fast and communicate well, which always presents a challenge.

"They play solid, real physical," USC tight end Randall Telfer said. "They're a bunch of vets. You don't see too many defenses with that many veteran guys so you know they will play the run well, that's what we expect. I have a lot of confidence in our guys to be ready, but it's a truth of the matter when you have young guys going against veteran guys, it's going to be a matter of focus on doing your job with great effort."

USC offensive line coach Tim Drevno -- who plays three true freshmen in his interior two-deep rotation -- says the effort is there in practice as the players and coaches work to avoid a repeat of the problems that plagued the Trojans' offense two weeks ago.

"The plan against BC didn't work," Drevno said. "It's a growing experience and everybody's fingerprints are all over it. But it's good sometimes to get a piece of humble pie, it makes you better. The attitude and the work ethic to get things fixed has been good. Everybody has a chip on their shoulder to improve this thing, coaches included, any time you lose there is a competitiveness within you to fix the problem."