USC vs. UCLA: Trojans offensive keys to victory


Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Keep running

After No. 23 USC struggled to establish any semblance of a rushing attack against No. 8 Stanford, they bounced back with 243 yards on the ground against Colorado.

Defensively, No. 22 UCLA is neither at the level of the Cardinal, nor the Buffaloes.

In the Trojans’ last four games, Javorius Allen has nine rushing touchdowns, and has eclipsed 100 yards on the ground in three of the four games.

In a season where injuries have decimated the group of running backs, Allen has taken the lead role and run with it.

Silas Redd didn’t play against the Cardinal and Buffaloes, but figures to be ready for the Bruins.  Tre Madden has also been in and out of the lineup since suffering a hamstring injury against Arizona in October, but should too be available.

How effective Madden and Redd can be remains to be seen.  If they are limited, Allen and Ty Isaac will likely be the primary players to carry and catch the ball out of the backfield.

The Trojans have amassed over 200 rushing in yards in three of their last four games, and another 200-yard effort would bode well for them.

2. Cody Kessler needs to be Cody Kessler

Cody Kessler is in the midst of playing the best stretch of football in his young Trojan career.

During the month of November, Kessler is 75 of 103 (61.1%) and has thrown for 889 yards, six touchdowns, and only one interception.

Along with the uptick in his statistics, Kessler has steadily improved his decision-making and pocket awareness.

The Bruins are allowing just over one passing touchdown per game, and have 12 interceptions.  However, that number is slightly misleading as six of the 12 interceptions came against Utah.

Kessler simply needs to continue playing within himself, and give his playmakers an opportunity to make plays.

3. Limit mistakes

Penalties, blown assignments, and turnovers can be drive killers.

After struggling to get their penalty woes under control for much of the season, the Trojans have effectively eliminated the issue.

Being that this is a rivalry game, players sometimes come out with a little too much emotion and lose focus.  You always want maximum effort out of the players, but that needs to be balanced with not trying to do too much.

A missed blocking assignment or a holding penalty could put the Trojans in long-yardage situations and make offensive drives more difficult than necessary.

These aren’t the days where the Trojans completely outclass the Bruins in terms of talent, and a costly mistake could sway the game one way or the other.

4. Dominate the line of scrimmage

Games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage.

Against the Cardinal, the offensive line did an admirable job of rising to the challenge.

As previously mentioned, they struggled to open up running lanes, but they did manage to give Kessler enough pass protection more times than not.

They’ll have another challenge on their hands with the big bodies along the Bruins’ defensive line.

5. Be creative

Since taking over the play calling duties, Clay Helton has improved the variety of plays called and broke away from overly predictable tendencies.

After a run up the middle failed against the Cardinal, Helton called for a pitch out to Allen, which he took for a touchdown.

However, Helton still has had bouts of falling susceptible to obvious play calls in certain situations.

Helton doesn’t need to abandon what’s been working, but sprinkling in a new wrinkle here and there may help keep momentum or swing it in the Trojans favor.