Say 'bye' to the desert blitz

On second look, the USC O-line didn't do all that bad a job against Arizona State's multiple all-out blitzers. but those penalties . . . "no excuse" for that says O-line coach Bob Connelly.

USC offensive line coach Bob Connelly wasn't all that upset at USC's puny run game production at Arizona State (just 76 yards on 32 carries, a 2.4 average).

Whatever formation USC lined up in, with a tight end that gave them six potential protectors or with a fullback that upped that number to seven, the Sun Devils simply brought one more in their zone blitzes. It was seven against six or eight against seven all night.

"I've never been blitzed that much in my 21 years as a college coach," Connelly said, and he'd coached four years against ASU's Todd Graham when he was at UTEP and Graham at Tulsa. "I didn't count them," Connelly said, "I just know that very, very few plays were non-blitzing."

The downside of that for ASU, as Steve Sarkisian noted after Tuesday's full-pads bye-week practice, was that "we went into the game knowing we'd get the ball to the perimeter and make them tackle in space."

ASU couldn't. Juju Smith-Schuster, Adoree' Jackson, Steven Mitchell and Isaac Whitney were just too athletic in space.

"I thought we had a great plan," Connelly said. "We're a lot better [than we were at the start of the season] . . . but nowhere near where we need to be."

They had just one completely busted play, Connelly said, "turning a linebacker completely loose but outside of that we held up pretty good . . . that's a lot of stress.

"They're counting one one guy to win," he said, and with that extra man advantage, when that happens, the whole offensive line loses. And that didn't happen.

One thing that did happen was the penalty problem, mostly on the offensive line -- false starts, a chop block, holding -- as USC was hit for 10 flags for 91 yards, several of them absolute drive-killers.

"There's no excuse for that," Connelly said, especially the pre-snap ones. And sure, that was USC's first road game in a hostile environment, Connelly noted, but it had better be fixed by the next time out (at Notre Dame Oct. 17).

They said it

*** Cody Kessler on throwing an early interception at the goal line: "It's the same as a TD . . . you just go on to the next play, 'it's the next play' my high school coach would say and he was hard on me about that . . . it was just a miscommunication between me and Steven [Mitchell] . . . I thought he was going in front."

*** Osa Masina on his first road game . . . and losing his helmet: The game's not only faster but much louder and "the best feeling in the world" is running out on the field on the road and getting it done. But then there's that helmet of his that's come off in three of USC's four games requiring him to take a play off: "Oh my God, you're telling me . . . it's the right size but it falls off even when I don't make a tackle . . . it just falls off . . . i'm going right now to see the equipment guy Todd [Hewitt].

*** Soma Vainuku on his kickoff team fumble recovery and selling it to the officials the way he jumped up with it immediately: "My first initial reaction was to pick it up and try to score but there was a guy there" and just 25 seconds left in the half.

*** Sark again on the Sunday conference call that didn't happen: "I apologize for Sunday . . . a total lack of communication."

*** Jalen Greene on going with the first group at wide receiver with both Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers out of Tuesday's practice: "I got a lot of work and learned a lot of things, little things you have to do right, how on evey rep, on every route, you have to get it exactly right."


Smith-Schuster, on the day he was added to the Biletnikoff Award list, missed practice for "personal reasons," Sark said, but that he thought it wasn't serious and that JuJu would be back Wednesday and that he'd keep us informed as to how that's going . . . CB Kevon Seymour was back after missing the ASU game but looked like he re-tweaked his knee in one-on-one work and didn't get any team contact work . . . NT Antwaun Woods (bruised shoulder and tailbone) was back and started with the first group . . . WR Rogers missed practice rehabbing his hamstring pull from the ASU game . . . Porter Gustin looked like he suffered no ill effects from bumping his knee toward the end of the ASU game and was full-go Tuesday . . . All three freshman running backs -- Dominic Davis, Ronald Jones and Aca'cedric Ware had good days running the ball . . . D-line guys were working hard on full-speed starts and 10-yard dashes early in practice with the O-line guys staying after to do a good bit of running . . . final two players off the field after extra work were freshmen -- OT Chuma Edoga and CB Iman Marshall . . . Three other freshman DB's all made plays -- Marvel Tell, Isaiah Langley and Ykili Ross . . . redshirting freshman QB Sam Darnold looked sharp running and throwing the ball with the second group . . . without JuJu and Darreus, Jalen Greene and Deontay Burnett had chances to make plays at wide receiver and did just that. CHECK THIS OUT: For more details on Tuesday's workout, check out TUESDAY UW BYE WEEK GHOST NOTES.

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