first_imgAfter a 49-31 win over Western Michigan in a blistering Coliseum on Saturday, USC shifted its focus to beating Stanford on Tuesday. In his post-practice press conference, head coach Clay Helton praised the upcoming opponent. “Having a chance to watch them the past few days, it’s the same thing as usual,” Helton said. “It’s a very well-disciplined, very physical team under [head coach] David Shaw.” The Trojans’ first Pac-12 game will be a big test and will tell a lot about where the team stands at the moment. Darnold looks to bounce backIn what was hyped up to be the beginning of redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold’s Heisman campaign, the quarterback had what he considered a bad day. While Darnold threw for 289 yards, he also threw two interceptions.“I think my emotions kind of got the best of me there,” Darnold said. “I thought I made the right decisions but I just need to put the ball in a better placement.” While Darnold wishes he had some throws back, he’s moved on, focusing on preparing for Stanford instead. “The thing I love about Sam Darnold is that he’s always so hard on himself,” Helton said. “He’s a perfectionist and wants to do better.”Defense Looks to Step Up After receiving praise all spring and fall camp, USC’s defense struggled out of the gate. Helton cited mental mistakes that contributed to their poor defensive performance. “We had some alignment errors, lost gap control and then we missed a tackle or two out in space,” Helton said. “If you combine any of those three things, it’s going to make for a hard day, but we let all three of them happen.” Junior running back Bryce Love will lead the Stanford rushing attack, and USC’s defense must find answers after giving up 263 rushing yards to the Broncos. USC’s defense let its frustration spill over into Tuesday as a handful of scuffles broke out. Junior cornerback Isaiah Langley and redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyler Vaughns got into it after a whistle, and then later on redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe mixed it up with sophomore cornerback Jack Jones.“I know defensively they’re mad,” Helton said. “They’re ready to play. They have a pride about playing good physical football and that wasn’t them on Saturday.” After the extra pushing and shoving, Helton called his team to huddle up. “This field is about competition,” he said. “But I just wanted to remind them to make sure that we’re making good decisions in games and not a decision that will cost us 15 yards.” Repeat the Running Game After gaining 232 yards on the ground in the season opener, the Trojans look to continue their success running the ball. Junior running back Ronald Jones II led the group, but the coaching staff emphasized that the depth of the group is an asset. Freshman Stephen Carr broke off a long touchdown run in his USC debut, redshirt freshman Vavae Malepeai was productive when he had the ball and the coaches also trust junior Aca’Cedric Ware. “We feel really good about having four running backs that we can hand the ball off,” Martin said. “They are a really close knit group. No one is mad about the other guy getting balls and reps. They’re all playing and we’re really happy about where we are at the running back position.” Rankings Slip The latest AP Rankings came out on Tuesday. The new rankings have the Trojans falling from No. 4 to No. 6 in the country. Stanford’s rank stayed at No. 14. Injury ReportAfter suffering a knee contusion in the first half against Western Michigan, junior offensive lineman Chuma Edoga fought through pain and finished the game. On Tuesday, he was limited in practice. Helton said he will most likely be available on Saturday, but won’t see the same number of snaps. Redshirt sophomore tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe played but was still a little banged up on Saturday. As he gets healthier, Helton says he will be integrated more into the passing game. Freshman safety Bubba Bolden is doubtful after injuring his knee on Saturday.last_img