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Scott Wolf | Los Angeles Daily News | September 15, 2014

Picking up the pieces

The fallout from USC's stunning loss to Boston College continued Sunday as defensive players talked about communication problems while the offense is apparently set for a new identity.

This is the result of going across the country and stumbling on national television against a 17-point underdog, the first loss of the Steve Sarkisian era.

"We did not play good football, that's a direct reflection upon me to get that fixed," Sarkisian said Sunday night. "It's hard to swallow, quite honestly."

A long list of shortcomings emerged from the loss, but it seemed the Trojans' defense was confused en route to giving up 452 yards rushing.

"A lot of it was miscommunication ... when we're supposed to tackle or dive or when we're supposed to go to the quarterback," safety Su'a Cravens said.

USC 2-2 USC allowed 452 yards rushing to BC.
Other players echoed Cravens, which suggested confusion played a part in Boston College's success. That is surprising because the Eagles' offense was not much different than what Pac-12 teams run, and actually worse when you consider Boston College could not pass.

Freshman cornerback Adoree Jackson said the Trojans were sometimes tentative defensively.

"We just need to come out all gas and no brakes," Jackson said.

How USC allowed Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy to rush for 191 yards will be discussed for a long time and will place scrutiny on defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive line coach Chris Wilson.

"We didn't do ourselves any favors in alignments, assignments and communication," Sarkisian said. "They exposed us."

The game might remind Sarkisian and Wilcox of Washington's 53-24 loss to Arizona State in 2013 when the Huskies rushed for minus-5 yards while the Sun Devils' offense amassed 585 yards.

Offensive under scrutiny

Sarkisian said the offense will be evaluated during USC's bye week as it tries to understand its identity.

"We were not in rhythm, we were choppy," he said. "I love to run the football but at some point when is the right time to throw it to set up the run?

"As much as I'm evaluating players, I'm evaluation myself."

Freshmen roles need to increase

If USC wants an offensive identity, it could start by getting more touches for Jackson and fellow freshman wide receiver Juju Smith. Both enjoyed good days against Fresno State but were bit players the past two games.

"Adoree is a work in progress," Sarkisian said. "We're learning about him as much as he is learning the system."

Jackson admitted he prefers an increased two-way role.

"I would like to play more wide receiver," he said. "It's not anything on me. It's up to the coaches."

Another mystery is why sophomore wide receiver Darreus Rogers' role remains small. He was expected to start last spring but did not catch a pass Saturday night until the fourth quarter, and it happened to be a 14-yard touchdown.

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