This will be a weekly feature explaining (optimistically) why USC will win each Saturday. There is no game this week, but there's still plenty of reasons this bye will be a win for the Trojans.
1) Getting Healthy: For a team that has struggled with depth and injuries, the opportunity for extra recuperation this weekend is hugely important. At practice this morning, the list of players slowed or sidelined by injuries was 13 strong. Most of those are real contributors to the offense and defense, including four starting offensive lineman and all four running backs listed on the USC depth chart. The bye week allows the coaches to be patient with getting those players back up to full speed.
2) Rest: The healthy members of the team also greatly benefit from the added rest of the bye week. Even the uninjured need some downtime during the season to recharge their bodies. That downtime could be the difference in the test of endurance that Oregon brings with their quick-firing offense.
3) Recruiting: The value of this as a recruiting week cannot be underestimated. Scholarship reductions going forward make every offer that much more important. The coaching staff can ill afford to make poor evaluations and every second spent on recruiting is essential. The work that Kiffin and company do this week could very well set the stage for future seasons.
4) Preparation: The coaching staff and players also have the advantage of an extra week to prepare tactically for everything the Ducks will throw at them next week. For the offense, that means sharpening the game plan for the task of exploiting an Oregon defense that has shown some weaknesses. For the defense, coming up with a scheme that will slow down LaMichael James and company. That's no easy task, but if anyone can do it it's this coaching staff.
5) Improvement: Throughout the season this team has shown improvement in one area or another every week. This bye provides just another week for the team chemistry to strengthen. More than that, it is another week for the young defense to better grasp Monte Kiffin's system and shore up their tackling. The defensive showing we saw against Cal was just the culmination of the steady development of that squad. Another week of growth is a definite win.