Picking up where USC left off

No looking back on that Stanford loss for these Trojans this week. Nope, they have Arizona State Saturday and that's a Pac-12 South game that matters big-time.

One talked about the Stanford game, the other wouldn't.

No way you could make Su'a Cravens go there after Tuesday's full-pads workout. What happened against Stanford, he was asked.

"It doesn't matter," Su'a Said. "We've got Arizona State this week." But how do you get it right if you won't talk about it? "It's been corrected," Su'a said. "It's on to Arizona State . . . We've already forgotten that [game]."

Steve Sarkisian wasn't hesitant to talk about then No. 6-USC's 41-31 upset at the Coliseum. And his record at USC might indicate why.

All four times last year after disappointing losses [to Boston College, to Arizona State, to Utah and to UCLA], USC bounced back for big wins the next week -- over Oregon State, 10th-ranked Arizona, Washington State and Notre Dame.

So here we go again. USC, still ranked at No 19, is a 5.5-point favorite in Tempe (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.) to get its first Pac-12 -- and Pac-12 South -- win in what will be the 2-1 Sun Devils' league opener.

"Still a bad taste in our mouth," Sark said of the loss. "We have a lot to accomplish this season."

Of a defensive gameplan that had basically every one of its goals fail, Sark said what happened was "twofold." Against the run, USC ended up playing on its side of the line of scrimmage basically the entire game. No push. No penetration.

The game play chart backs that up. Of Stanford's 46 run plays, just one finished up in the Stanford backfield. The other 45 netted positive yardage.

And against Stanford's pass offense, Sark said "we're trying to sack the quarterback." They got him three times and missed him at least that many and when they did, he hurt them badly.

The problem, Sark said, was not maintaining "rush lane integrity." The result: "We didn't get Kevin [Hogan] on the ground."

And then on the back line, "we didn't want to give them anything cheap," Sark said. So if there's just one USC breakup on Stanford's 23 pass attempts, well, at least they didn't get behind any Trojans.

"Stanford really taxed us mentally in the game," Sark said. "They really gave us stuff in the game that made us think.

"At the end of the day, we need to coach 'em to finish better," Sark said.

Maybe that will even bring back that "bully mentality" Sark started talking about after the Notre Dame game last year.

"We've always had it," Su'a said, "it's just a matter of going out and doing it."

One thing they have to do is keep ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici "in the pocket," Su'a says. "We've just got to execute [even though] a lot of people say it's the coaches."

But it's not about him, Su'a said, even if he did lead USC with 13 tackles against Stanford including a sack for nine yards and that one pass breakup. "It doesn't matter," he said, "I wasn't around to get the win."

Gameplanning for Tempe

Fifth-year seniors Tre Madden and Cody Kessler were in agreement on what it will be like Saturday in the desert, a place they've been twice in their careers.

"It's a really loud stadium," Tre said, expecting to be fully back from an upper calf strain that kept him out the second half against Stanford. "We've got to focus on establishing the run and silencing their crowd."

"I'm excited, I always love road games," Cody said. "That's a tough place to play . . . It's going to be loud." So establishing the run is the way to go? "Run or pass," Cody says. "Continue to move the chains and you take the crowd out of it."

And one way they have to make sure they do that: "We've got to finish plays," Cody said.

Sark says

Some quick Sarkisms from Tuesday:

*** "Give Stanford credit, they have good coaches as well."

*** "Is TMZ here?" Sark asked after the last question as he walked off now that no one in the USC media seems to have witnessed the "locker room fight" that TMZ said happened with two players pushing and shoving and yelling coming up the tunnel after the game.

*** And finally, this Snarkism that Sark didn't actually say, but who knows, it's early in the season: "I don't answer hypotheticals," might be the perfect response when Sark is asked about the USC pass rush.


Senior CB Kevon Seymour still out with a knee issue . . . NT Antwaun Woods (bruised shoulder and tailbone) and Scott Felix (sore shoulder) were in pads but limited mostly . . . Tre Madden was able to do Scout team work after loosening up his upper calf strain . . . O-line stays after to do some extra running for the second straight week. That's because for the second straight week, they didn't get to run many plays in the game . . . really sharp day throwing the ball for both quarterbacks and big day catching it for Steven Mitchell Jr. . . No need to use Adoree' Jackson on offense Saturday, Sark said, because they were plenty explosive with a 7.1-yard average per play and Adoree' had to play a lot on defense and with that one long kickoff retrn. CHECK THIS OUT: For more details on Tuesday's workout, check out TUESDAY ASU WEEK GHOST NOTES.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.

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