You could read it on Justin Davis’ face.
USC’s senior running back walked off the field at Stanford Stadium with his shoulders slumped. The Trojans had just fallen to 1-2 after a 27-10 loss to Stanford.
“It's tough, man,” Davis said after the game. “It was a tough loss because we had a whole lot of things good going on there. It's just the mistakes keep biting us in the butt. Especially against a team like Stanford, you've got to be airlocked. No air can get out.
“You can't make any mistakes and that's just what happened today. They played a very good, disciplined game and we just didn’t.”
For the Northern California native, the game was particularly disappointing. He rushed for a respectable 63 yards on 14 carries (4.5 avg) and caught four passes for 10 yards.
“This is the last time I'm going to be up here, Cal or Stanford. So it did. It was kind of disappointing to come up here and not perform the way we wanted to.”
Davis, who is from Stockton, Calif., knew this was his last scheduled opportunity to play for USC in the Bay Area. For him to get another shot, the Trojans would have to right the ship and make the Pac-12 Championship game, potentially where they could face the Cardinal for the second year in a row.
The Trojans once again suffered from mental errors that led to big plays for the Stanford offense and stalled drives for the USC attack. For Davis and the offense, there were unrealized opportunities. The Trojans ran the ball well against a physical Stanford defense. They rushed the ball for 117 yards on 26 attempts (4.5 avg), but drives routinely fizzled due to errors in front of the running backs -- often pre-snap.
The team had eight penalties for 56 yards, but six of those penalties were false starts by the offense, including three on the same drive when the Trojans were trying to answer Stanford’s first score.
“We kind of took a couple plays off here and there. Even if we run the ball good, we have a couple good plays, we still got to come back and execute the next play after. We can't have any mental lapses and for a moment there, we had a couple of them like the false starts and maybe somebody misses an assignment. We just couldn't have those. That's ultimately what caused us to lose the game.”
“It's not a situation where they overmatched us,” Davis said. “If a team like this has that much talent like we do, the only way we're going to be successful is we play disciplined. If we don't play disciplined with this talent, the talent is just going to go to waste.
“That's what just makes me so mad. So going forward here, we really have to play to our assignments and play very good -- physical football, no mistakes -- and we'll be alright.”
Davis said the fundamental issue for USC has been team chemistry. He knows the best teams are the ones that play together. That’s what Stanford was able to do while USC looked across the field and marveled. How does USC get more disciplined and play together as one unit?
“Well, it starts in practice. 'Man, I got your back.' Hopefully, in return he has your back. That's just how it starts. You do your job and you depend on your teammate to do his job. We just need to build that trust.
“Once we get that trust down, we'll start winning some games because we have to trust each other to do their job. That's the only way that we can succeed.”
Watch Justin Davis talk about USC's 27-10 loss to Stanford because the Trojans didn't play a complete game:
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