Tuesday Practice: Looking for Consistency

With the defense playing some of their best football in years, the focus in practice this week has been finding a way to be more consistent offensively, and building momentum for the second half of the season. Look inside for all the details.

Looking for Consistency on Offense

The USC offense has looked brilliant at times, scoring 52 points against Virginia and 69 points against Washington State, but has also been quite ordinary against Oregon State, Arizona State and Arizona.

The Trojans are averaging 38 points a game and have shown signs of greatness this season, but questions about the team's discipline and playing below their potential, remain.

"We can't go on this roll coaster like we have," said USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. "We need to be solid for the long haul. We can't afford to have these peaks and valleys."

"We're really thrilled about the intensity and the toughness and the effort that we're bringing," Carroll added. "But we have to play better and smarter."

The Trojans pulled out a hard-fought victory against a quality Arizona team this past weekend, but failed to seize their opportunities to put the game away because of penalties, bad decisions and some questionable play calling.

"We had the penalty problems again this last week that were really slanted and slid against us. We gave up 10 penalties in the game," Carroll said. "Our opponent only had one. We have to do way better than that."

While admitting that there is room for improvement, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian pointed out that the Trojans faced a very solid defense last week in Tucson, and the Wildcats deserve credit for keeping the Trojans contained.

"I think what somewhat gets lost is last ballgame we went against a very good defense on the road, in a hostile environment," Sarkisian said.

With the defense playing some of their best football in years, the focus in practice this week has been finding a way to be more consistent offensively, and building momentum for the second half of the season.

"We've got to keep moving forward, to improve," Carroll said. "We see some areas that are really important to us, in particular the consistency on offense is something we're really striving for."

Fortunately, for the Trojans, they have rebounded from every subpar performance with a blowout win. Not to mention the fact that the calendar is about to turn to November, a month in which Pete Carroll has been perfect in since arriving at USC in 2001.

"We showed that this is resilient group and we are excited to get back at it and get another shot this week," Sanchez said. "Now we just need to execute as planned and we will be just fine.

"I think we are going to hit this thing right this week and get it going for the long haul."

News and Notes

- Vidal Hazelton wasn't able to practice today because of a stubbed toe. The toe injury is the latest in a long line of nagging injuries that have limited the talented wide receiver this season.

"An array of injuries have kept him out," Pete Carroll said. "It's been hard on him."

Carroll said it has been hard to get Hazelton into the game plan because of his setbacks.

- Defensive tackle Averell Spicer (sprained ankle) didn't practice on Tuesday and is doubtful for Saturday's game against Washington. Freshman Jurrell Casey will have an expanded role if Spicer isn't available.

- Damian Williams (shoulder) ran routes but didn't participate in contact drills. Williams will meet with team doctors on Tuesday night.

- Marc Tyler returned to full-contact drills on Tuesday.

- Freshman wide receiver Brice Butler pulled in a deep touchdown pass from Aaron Corp against the first-team defense. Butler had a very productive practice making several catches for the scout team offense.

- Kaluka Maiava, Rey Maualuga and Kevin Ellison all intercepted passes from Garrett Green during team drills.

- Defensive tackle Fili Moala put on a show during one-on-one drills blowing past Alex Parsons and every other offensive lineman that tried to block him.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden
at kevin@scplaybook.com


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