3 biggest takeaways from USC football’s win over UCLA

USC foootball receiver Drake London. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
USC foootball receiver Drake London. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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USC football running back Vavae Malepeai. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football running back Vavae Malepeai. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) /

Riding one running back has its merits

There was something a little bit different about USC’s rushing attack on Saturday. And it wasn’t just that the team gained more than five yards on the ground.

The Trojans relied primarily on one rusher instead of cycling through four of them. Vavae Malepeai was the guy and he proved why. On 19 carries, the veteran back had 110 yards and a touchdown.

Malepeai isn’t USC’s fastest or strongest back, but he’s the most well-rounded of the bunch. Most importantly, he rushes with single-minded determination. His north-south style was exactly what the Trojans needed against UCLA and they were right to lean on him when he was feeling it. They should do that more often when it comes to all of their backs.

It will be interesting to see who can step up on Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Malepeai suffered a knee sprain late against UCLA, throwing his status up in the air. If he can’t go, it’ll be an opportunity for Stephen Carr, Markese Stepp or Kenan Christon to carry the load.

The important thing is for USC to recognize when one of those guys is feeling it, and to let them keep up their rhythm instead of swapping players out for the sake of rotation.

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