USC Football: Sarkisian Stresses Process Ahead of Stanford


For USC football coach Steve Sarkisian, each week comes with its own obstacle inside of a greater agenda. That is balancing the Trojans’ overarching agenda with the weekly gameplan.

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With highly respected Stanford on the docket next Saturday, that’ll be tough for the Trojans. More so than early opponents Arkansas State and Idaho, the Cardinal have the ability to make USC pay if they aren’t ready.

“We need to prepare for Stanford, and we need to understand their schemes and how they play on offense, defense and special teams,” Sarkisian said during his Sunday night conference call.

“But I also don’t want to shift the focus away from us. This is really about us preparing ourselves to play, and not changing the way that we prepare based on who the opponent is.”

Sep 12, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian on the sideline against the Idaho Vandals at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

That idea is what has fueled the Trojans thus far. Several players echoed that mantra after Saturday’s 59-9 win over Idaho, including running back Justin Davis calling Idaho another ‘faceless opponent’.

It’s also given Sarkisian a bit of the Nick Saban mindset, focusing on the Alabama coach’s core value: process.

“The key for us is to stick to the process and believe in the process to get prepared to play a quality opponent,” Sarkisian said. “Beacause they are a quality opponent doesn’t mean that we should change. We’ve got the right formula, we’ve just got to stick to it and be committed to it.”

Can the Trojans balance the short term and long term game plans with faceless opponents? It’s a question worth asking given that USC struggled at times with that last season.

Treating Idaho as if they’re Stanford is a good way to prevent let downs, but USC can’t focus on Stanford as if they’re on the same level as Idaho.

That’s where the commitment to any sort of process of merging plans comes to play. Waver and you run the risk of playing up and down to opponents. Keep it as the engine that drives you and you can fall back on your identity and what got you there.

For now, Stanford serves as the big test of both mindsets. They’re also a much better indicator than Idaho of where the Trojans’ true season expectations should lie.

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