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Practice Report: Lincoln Riley, USC Football Expecting Tough Matchup Against Fresno State

Sep 13, 2022

There wasn't too much that surprised USC head coach Lincoln Riley when reviewing Saturday's game film against Stanford.

"We had a pretty good beat on it during the game," Riley said. "A ton of positives, a ton to get better at."

One of the issues Riley is looking to correct is the No. 7 Trojans' offensive efficiency through four quarters. After an electric first half against the Cardinal, USC was limited to just two field goals in the second half of the game. Riley weighed in Tuesday on whether the team "took their foot off the gas" at one point.

"I think it's very possible," the head coach said. "At times we intentionally slowed it down a little bit. But slow it down doesn't mean don't execute. You can call a play and snap it with 30 seconds left, or snap it with five seconds left, you've still got to execute. And the reality is, when we slowed it down, our execution went down."

Riley explained that the third quarter presented an opportunity for the team to run the clock and develop its run game in live action. The ability to grind out a game clock, he argued, is a key skill to have in order to win games.

"It's not necessarily 'four-minute mode,' but you've got to be able to operate at different paces. And when we slowed down some in the second half, we obviously did not operate the way we expect to."

Notes from USC's Tuesday practice of Fresno State Week:

  • Riley previewed Fresno State as an opponent with "not many weaknesses."

    • "They're good everywhere. They're very experienced. They know how to win. They've obviously got a staff there of guys that are extremely experienced and know how to get it done at this level. I think [they're] always some of the toughest types of teams because you just don't identify a ton of weaknesses on tape. And you know you've got to be on your game."

  • Running back Travis Dye echoed Riley's sentiments given his first-hand experience with the Bulldogs. The redshirt senior played Fresno State last season with his former team.

    • "They fought really, really hard. And they will fight hard against us too. So having that kind of experience and making sure guys know not to take this game lightly at all. This will be one of the hardest games on our schedule, for sure."

  • Courtland Ford and Romello Height both did not finish Saturday's game due to injury. Riley shared that both Trojans will rest early in the week and then will be reevaluated for Saturday's game.

  • Redshirt senior tackle Bobby Haskins shared that his routine will stay the same despite the possibility of him getting more playing time this week.

    • "My preparation never changes. Every week, everybody out here prepares like they're gonna play every snap of every game because that's what it takes to win."

  • Cornerback Mekhi Blackmon was challenged relentlessly by Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee on Saturday. Riley praised the redshirt senior's talent on Tuesday.

    • "He was awesome. He gave up one glance ball that came out of technique a little bit. Other than that, it was PBUs, interceptions, competitive plays. … We like him matched up against anybody. The way he's playing and competing, the guys he goes against here in practice are good players and it's a battle every single day. So that's a one-on-one matchup that we're very, very comfortable with."  

 

Tuesday's media availability:

Breaking down USC's 41-28 win over Stanford: