Trojans must swallow some pride

The Trojans drew a flag eight times in their season opener against Hawaii and the downhill slide has only become steeper as the season continues. Now the most penalized team in college football, the Trojans have worked to identify the root of the problem and know they'll be run off the field if the penalties persist against Oregon...

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Nine weeks into the season and eight games into the schedule, at least one Trojan finally thinks he's figured out the cause of USC's penalty problem.

"Too much pride," receiver Robert Woods said frankly after practice on Tuesday.

He may be on to something.

The Trojans are ranked last in the FBS when it comes to penalties, drawing the most penalties per game and giving up the most penalty yards per game. Against Arizona, USC drew 13 flags, surrendering 117 yards in penalties in the 39-36 loss.

Coach Lane Kiffin agrees, part of the problem is a pride issue. The Trojans consider themselves a "band of brothers," finding the need to have each other's back on and off the field.

Although it's a protective mentality, it might be one that needs to go. "It's not a street fight," Kiffin said on Wednesday. "It's a game and there are rules within it."

Kiffin says many of his players have been instilled with the mentality to protect their teammates. However, in doing so, it's actually cost them. "We get retaliation off of something that happened to somebody else," Kiffin explained, "and like what usually happens in football, the second person gets caught."

"I think it's something we've got to take within ourselves and the fact that we're representing a lot of people out there on the field," said T.J. McDonald, who collected personal fouls against Arizona for a late hit and taunting. "Players that came before us, all of our people that are watching us and we don't want to display an undisciplined team."

After watching film on Sunday of the penalties collected over the course of the season, players say they've learned their lesson and they've learned the infractions not only add up, but they're costing them games.

Chances are this band of brothers will hustle back to the line of scrimmage on Saturday against Oregon…or they know they'll be hustled off the field like all of the Ducks' previous opponents this season.

"We've just got to make sure that we go out there and we play disciplined," McDonald said, "play USC football like it's supposed to be played and that's what we are focusing on."

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