"My job as the head coach is to put us in the best position to win," coach Lane Kiffin said following practice on Tuesday afternoon, addressing questions surrounding the possible need to air the ball deep more often. "Whether that be throw the ball 10 times or throw the ball 50 times, it's all about moving the football and coming out 2-0."
The Trojans came out in full pads for practice, looking to regain confidence and swagger on the offensive side of the ball now fully entrenched in the film for Washington State on Saturday. In the first order of business during game week activities, the offense came out looking to run the football hoping to establish a dominating tempo for the opening game of the Pac-12 slate, this against a defense that gave up nearly 300 yards of rushing last week.
"We preparing as hard as we can, hopefully we go out there and execute," according to captain Marcus Martin after watching hours of film on the Cougars defense with his brothers on the line. "We blocking our tails off and they (Justin Davis, Tre Madden) running their tails off, so its really encouraging to us to see the team run the ball well."
In the midst of preparations, Kiffin mentioned three distinct goals the entire offense continues will center their focus around this week. First and foremost, Kiffin wanted the Trojans to be more consistent in passing game which will help with third down production. Most importantly, the Trojans wanted to be more efficient in the red zone by scoring touchdowns instead of field goals while also pitching shutouts in the turnover department each and every week.
"Once we get things squared away with communication, we are going to be tough to stop," Martin says about the Trojans rather suspect pass protection against Hawaii, before adding about this week."We looking forward to setting the tempo in the Pac-12, especially during a night game."
With the offensive line focused and ready to take the field emerging together as an organized unit, the quarterback controversy has been nothing short of chaotic, yet both players share similar thoughts on the situation."It's a smaller opportunity to shine...but we are both going to be ready for this game and take the opportunities that come our way,"
Following a disappointing first half with drives resulting in field goals and missed opportunities for points, Cody Kessler assessed his performance in rather straight forward terms. "That wasn't me playing," Kessler said, adding. "I was kind of thinking of all the outside stuff. I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect, and I realize that is not possible. I feel so much more clear and ready and excited for this game."
For Max Wittek, who entered in the second series of second half, learning from his two starting games of experience has instantly translated to success. "The home run shot is only going to be there X amount of times per game," he said. "The deep balls that I did throw (against Hawaii), they were there," this following 5-10 passing performance.
The conversation on offense remains centered around correcting the minor mistakes that could cost them down the road. Not overlooking the dropped passes, inexcusable penalties and miscommunications on the line will put the Trojans maligned offense in position to match their powerful "52" defense, which just forced four turnovers last week.