Expert Opinion: Stepping Up

Dan Greenspan and Whitney Blaine of SCPlaybook single out the players and position groups that need to step up after USC's first loss of the season.

Name one player that needs to step up for the Trojans to avoid a second consecutive loss.

Marc Tyler is never going to be confused with Reggie Bush as far as game-breaking ability, I know that, but at some point he has to deliver some explosive runs.

The redshirt senior has just nine rushes of 10-plus yards this season, only two longer than 20 yards. His lack of breakaway speed was especially damning in the third quarter at Arizona State, when despite being well into the Arizona State secondary linebacker Colin Parker came in from behind and poked the ball loose for a game-changing fumble.

If Tyler can run pull away, he scores a touchdown and USC retakes the lead, completely changing the complexion of the contest.

Arizona has surrendered 25 runs of 10-plus yards in its last three games, nine of those covering more than 20 yards. If Tyler can't deliver the big plays that produce touchdowns, protecting the young offense from making the mistakes that kill long drives, USC head coach Lane Kiffin will have to consider turning over the reigns to a sprier running back.
-Dan Greenspan

One player that needs to step up is wide receiver Brandon Carswell. Carswell has shown incredible talent in the Trojans' fall camp but he hasn't had the kind of performance that would parallel his output in August or early September.

A senior, Carswell wants to make a name for himself this season and with the kind of bracket coverages Robert Woods has seen, the ability for Carswell to make plays is there.

While he's not seeing the field as often, fighting for playing time with a slew of other receivers, especially true freshman Marqise Lee, Carswell needs to capitalize on his opportunities when given. His consistency that he showed in fall camp will be essential to the Trojans when the running game can't get going, Woods is covered and/or Lee is making freshman mistakes.

Carswell is incredibly talented. Now he just needs to show it.
-Whitney Blaine

What position group needs to assert itself this week against Arizona?

Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin can talk all he wants about how the longest pass the Trojans surrendered at Arizona State was 19 yards, but the secondary, especially the safeties, were abused by the Sun Devils' quick passing game.

Defensive backs couldn't shed blocks and on the rare occasions they did, couldn't tackle in the open field. Junior T.J. McDonald was in territory associated with Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, flagged for three personal fouls.

In his defense, the first two were extremely questionable, but McDonald seemingly never regained his confidence after those two calls in the first 17 minutes of the game.

Factor in the missed tackle by Jawanza Starling on Cameron Marshall's 70-yard touchdown run and it was as disastrous a performance as any of the breakdowns a year ago.

They have to play better or else the Wildcats' equally prolific aerial assault will hand USC a second consecutive loss.
-Dan Greenspan

The offensive line. There's a reason the media and head coach Lane Kiffin have been incessantly harping on this position because, quite simply, it needs to be better. Glaring errors from the right tackle and left guard, in particular, through four games have led Kiffin to add even more competition by rotating players in at both spots in practice.

Center Khaled Holmes and blindside tackle Matt Kalil are the obvious leaders and strengths of this line, but two people alone cannot stop a blitz or pass-rush.

This line needs to improve. I don't know how it can get drastically better in one week. But maybe it will just click at some point.

With the help of a home game and a bye week, this line has the luxury of time to improve. But they have yet to so far through four games so to say two weeks will help is optimistic.

If you go back and look at the film, Matt Barkley's fumble in the ASU game was a result of the line collapsing. Tackle/guard Aundrey Walker has been performing better in games than in practices, so maybe his size (6-6, 350) can prove useful if he's given the opportunity.
-Whitney Blaine Top Stories