BEAVS: Checking in on No. 18 USC

USC COACH Steve Sarkisian on Tuesday said the No. 18 Trojans spent the bye week ahead of the tilt with Oregon State working on correcting the defensive breakdowns and offensive line shortcomings from the loss at Boston College.

The Trojans, who host Oregon State (7:30, ESPN) spent the off-week working on the fundamentals, said Sarkisian.

“We have quite a bit of youth up front - and this will be the fourth really veteran defense we’ve faced,” said Sarkisian. “People are challenging those guys, giving those guys a variety of stunts and pressures, putting a tall task on those guys.”

Many of the USC defensive issues at Boston College centered around the zone-read runs, as USC allowed a staggering 452 yards rushing. But the week before USC held Stanford to 120 yards on the ground and Oregon State doesn't run the zone read. That said, will Mike Riley try some things with his running backs in an effort to take advantage in the way BC did?

Oregon State has not won in L.A. since 1960 -- that's 22 USC wins in a row.

But the series has gone 3-3 over the past six years.

QB Cody Kessler has completed 71 percent of his passes this year without an interception. His favorite target has been WR Nelson Agholor, who has 9 receptions in each of the past two games and now is in the Trojan career Top 25 in both receptions and punt returns. RB Javorius Allen has topped 100-yards in all three games this season (2 rushing, 1 receiving).

The Trojan defense, featuring DE Leonard Williams, LB Hayes Pullard and S Su’a Cravens, is ranked highest nationally in turnover margin, pass efficiency defense, red zone defense, interceptions, pass defense and third down conversion defense.

But the Beaver defense, led by LB Michael Doctor and CB Steven Nelson, leads the nation in both pass efficiency defense and third down conversion defense. They are also ranked in the nation’s Top 25 in total defense, passing defense, scoring defense and turnover margin.

USC has yet to suit up more than 60 recruited scholarship players in 2014 because of NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations. They have 67 scholarship players, 62 of whom were eligible the first three weeks, and they’ve suited up 57, 52 and 54 the first three weeks.

USC has 61 scholie players available this week (3 are out for the season with injuries, 1 is academically ineligible and 1 is indefinitely suspended).

Steve Sarkisian is the eighth youngest (40) head coach in the NCAA FBS.

Sarkisian has said he would like to average 80 offensive plays per game but that will be difficult to do with Oregon State’s deliberateness on offense. The Trojans are averaging 78 plays per game in 2014 – a play every 23.9 seconds and 2.5 plays per minute.

USC ran 105 plays against Fresno State -- but just 59 against Stanford and 70 against Boston College.

CB-WR Adoree’ Jackson is being used as a 3-way player by USC in 2014, seeing action on offense as a wide receiver, defense as a cornerback and special teams as a returner and in coverage.

USC is one of only 3 NCAA FBS (formerly Division I-A) schools that has never played an FCS (formerly non-Division I-A) opponent since the divisions were established in 1978. The other schools are UCLA and Notre Dame.

USC’s two conference “misses” in 2014 (as it was in 2013) are Oregon and Washington.

USC does not have any players from Oregon, while Oregon State sports 42 players on the roster who hail from California.

The connections between Oregon State and USC are lengthy: USC defensive backs coach/pass game coordinator defense Keith Heyward played cornerback at Oregon State (1997-2000), and was the secondary coach there from 2008 to 2011...USC offensive assistant Kyle DeVan played center at Oregon State (2004-07), then was a graduate assistant for tight ends there in 2013...USC defensive graduate assistant Patrick Henderson played cornerback at Oregon State (2006- 09)...Oregon State head coach Mike Riley was an assistant at USC from 1993 to 1996...OSU defensive coordinator Mark Banker was a USC assistant coach in 1996...OSU secondary coach Rod Perry is the father of former Trojan Rod Perry Jr., who played football (wide receiver in 1997) and baseball (centerfielder on the 1998 College World Series champs) at USC before transferring to Cal State Fullerton and then Penn State...OSU QB Luke Del Rio is the son of former USC All-American LB Jack Del Rio (1981-84)...OSU OL Sean Harlow is the son of former USC OT Pat Harlow (1987-90), the 1990 Pac-10 Morris Trophy winner...Oregon State SNP Michael Morovick is the son of former USC S-QB Dan Morovick (1979), who was a member of Troy’s 1978 national championship team...OSU DT Jalen Grimble is the cousin of former USC TE Xavier Grimble.

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