Notes and observations about USC as the Trojans try to avoid a trap game at Cal …
LOS ANGELES — Even with a flurry of recent injuries, USC should not experience depth problems with a full complement of 85 scholarships.
But there is still concern as USC faces Cal on Saturday because the coaching staff has not always shown faith in the reserves. That means if Ykili Ross replaces Ajene Harris at cornerback, there might be doubts. Or if Tyler Vaughns starts over Steven Mitchell at wide receiver, questions will persist until Vaughns gets more receptions.
For a variety of reasons, USC has relied on its starters more than necessary. Cornerback Jack Jones went 97 plays against Western Michigan. Defensive tackle Rasheem Green went every play against Stanford. Some of this is defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s preference. But it leads to concerns about whether the backups can contribute too?
And the situation could become worse if USC suffers more injuries Saturday because the Trojans play at Washington State six days later.
>> USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin said Texas played faster against the Trojans than on film. There’s only one problem with that: It’s not about them. It’s about you.
>> Does anyone think if USC is in a close game at the end of Saturday’s game, the Trojans will have three timeouts for Sam Darnold and Co.?
>> USC safety Chris Hawkins said he has four notebooks full of thoughts on opposing players at other schools. With that knowledge of Cal, Hawkins said USC won’t look past the Bears after an unimpressive result with Texas.
“It’s in our face now,” Hawkins said. “This is no sleeper (game).”
>> My game prediction: Cal is 3-0 and exceeding expectations. The Bears are also considerably less talented than USC. But the Trojans are not beyond playing down to the level of their competition.
That’s why this game could be closer than expected. USC is a 17-point favorite but some penalties or turnovers could make it much closer. I still think Washington State next week will be the more telling test, however, and pick USC to beat Cal, 38-24.
>> Actor Will Ferrell, a USC graduate, and his wife, Viveca Paulin, have endowed a women’s soccer scholarship at the university. At least that takes the conversation away from some of the movies he’s made lately.
>> Saturday’s USC-Cal game is the Joe Roth Memorial game, which means the Bears will wear throwback uniforms. The first Joe Roth game was in 1977 against USC. It…