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Washington State story lines

With respect to Wazzu it has been a bit tough to get up for this game from a blogging standpoint. But there are some storylines that we need to keep an eye on.

With Joe McKnight out and possibly doubtful to even travel to Pullman this week end we will probably get a chance to see a hefty dose of Broderick Green.

The 6-foot, 235-pound Green provides a style that could help the Trojans, especially in short-yardage situations.

"I'm a power threat, but I can do everything," said Green, who rushed for 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2006 as a senior at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark.

Green has taken small steps since arriving at USC. He suffered a foot injury that forced him to redshirt last season and has been buried on the depth chart behind the older backs. But Green said he had not considered transferring.

"You can't be impatient," he said. "I did break my foot last year so I can't just expect to jump to the front."

I am a firm believer of having a power running game and with Bradford probably lost for the season with a hip injury Green brings that dimension to the backfield. This is of course one of the benefits of having more than the normal amount of running backs that most programs have and it will also be interesting to see how Johnson, Gable and Green will be utilized as the season goes forward.

One of the troubling things that was noted from last weekends win over ASU was the difficulty in converting short yardage situations.

The Trojans have mostly struggled to run effectively in those situations this season.

"It hasn't been real bad, but it's concerning us," offensive line coach Pat Ruel said.

USC's inability to convert a third and one by tailback Stafon Johnson on its first possession at Oregon State gave confidence to the upstart Beavers.

Against Arizona State, a first-quarter drive stalled when Johnson was stopped on third and two at the Sun Devils' 41-yard line. Carroll, who has almost made going for it on fourth down a signature move, opted to punt on the next play.

USC has converted 45% of its third-down opportunities, but offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian acknowledged that the percentage would be higher if the short-yardage game was more effective.

"That's the difference between 45% and being maybe a 52% third-down team and showing that you can extend drives and get more plays," he said.

Assignment errors and faulty positioning have hurt the Trojans, Ruel said, but he does not advocate a ram-it-down-their-throats routine on third down.

The one thing that stands out here is the O looks like they are still having a hard time coming together. Converting those short yardage situation has always been a staple of the SC offense and when opposing defenses get beat on those they can be absolutely demoralizing. Converting those can also exploit the opposing secondary as the game goes on especially if th try to stuff the box with an extra tackler leaving the corners in man coverage. That s the benefit of having a power running game between the tackles, just keep pund the ball and the defense into submission.

Yes, I sound like a broken record but with SC's stable of running backs, even though they are a bit depleted right now, they should try to find the right mix to move the ball consistently.

USC is in a bit of a catch-22 in regards to this weekends game in Pullman. Its a forgone conclusion in some circles that SC will win but the bigger question to me is by how much and should that matter? As I noted earlier USC has win convincingly if they are going to influence voter as the season moves forward if they want a shot at the BCS Title Game. The problem is with WSU losing by 60+ point in three games this season if SC doesn't hit that number will that affect them negatively?

SC has moved itself up in the polls since that terrible loss in Corvallis. Some of it is because of wins in their last two games and some of it is because teams ahead of them lost as well.

Only eight quarters after a loss that left Pete Carroll saying "I'm beside myself," USC was back in the national title pursuit.

No kidding. Today, Carroll and the Trojans are beside BCS. Right beside.

Quite a lively leap, especially for a team rumored to be dead.

"We had one slip-up, a bad slip-up," tailback Stafon Johnson said. "But now a bunch of other teams have slipped up also."

Last week, the Trojans were ranked No. 9, behind one Mountain West Conference team and barely ahead of another.

Then Texas-Oklahoma happened.

Then Oklahoma State-Missouri happened.

"Maybe you guys will stop being amazed," Carroll said Tuesday to a group of media members, many of whom consider ordering a second beer to be seeing things long-term. "Just because you win a bunch of games in the beginning of the year – you win three or four – it doesn't say anything about what's coming up."

Then Texas Tech won and hardly anybody cared.

Then Brigham Young won and definitely nobody cared.

When competing in college football, the beauty pageant of sports, it's good to have a pretty past.

Just like that USC is right back in it. Running up the score is not taken into account by the computers but you never know how the voters will vote. More importantly this supposed "gimme" game gives SC a chance to rest starters and evaluate younger players in a real game situation. That's not necessarily a bad thing as there is still a lot football to be played this season and healthy players will have a huge impact as SC heads into the stretch run. SO to me they have get a lot of point but get them early that way the voter will be satisfied and the starters can rest, its as simple as that.

Another thing that needs to be worked on is reducing the general sloppiness that has been noticed during some of the games this season. The staff has been putting a lot of extra effort at improving player discipline.

Things got so sloppy for USC during its 28-0 victory over Arizona State that even the coaching staff drew a penalty for bumping into an official during a touchdown celebration.

"I've been sticking pins under my fingernails all day," USC coach Pete Carroll said about the penalty.

Sideline penalties, personal foul penalties and a number of dropped passes last weekend left a lot of us frustrated at last weekends performance.

The team has a great opportunity to work out some of these kinks but thy have to stay focused. Making stupid penalties that could let an over-matched WSU team hang around this weekend to me would be a step back.

hey need to focus on attention to detail...