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Red zone may be 4 down territory for USC against Oregon

Trojans worked on the Red Zone in Thursday’s practice.

NCAA Football: California at Southern California Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

In Thursday’s practice USC finished installing the game plan for Oregon. As is customary during Thursday practices the Trojans worked on their red zone game plan for both sides of the ball. While maintaining possession (no turnovers) and winning 3rd downs will be critical to USC’s success, Helton said that 4th downs, particularly in the red zone may also be a key factor for the Trojans.

“I’ve already talked to Tee [Martin] about as soon as we hit the 35 you gotta get in your mind if it is 3rd and medium it could be possible four down territory. So that obviously alters your play calling a little bit if you have two downs”

Much like last week USC plays a team that can run plenty of plays and score plenty of points. As a result, field goals are not as helpful so Helton plans to be more aggressive on offense inside the Oregon 35. This scenario did not really play out last week when the Trojans played Cal as they largely moved the ball with ease. However, If USC gets into a shootout, particularly late in the game, they don’t want to be in a situation where they left 4 points on the field by deciding to kick a field goal on a 4th and short inside the the 35.

The Trojans also spent some extra time on special teams, particularly kick coverage. Helton said that Oregon has two players that can do amazing things every time they touch the ball. Kick returns serve not only as a quick and easy six points but they can also create a huge momentum swing. Helton specifically cited Charles Nelson and Tony Brooks-James stating that they are type of players that cause him to hold his breath every time they touch the ball. Again, because the Oregon offense can score a lot of points, this game (like most Oregon games) has the potential to become a shootout the Trojans cannot afford to give away points on special teams or let momentum swing back to the Ducks.

Injury Report:

CB Jonathan Lockett will be out for the Oregon game. Running backs Justin Davis, Aca’Cedric Ware are doing everything they can to get healthy enough to play but as of now Helton says both of those players will be a game time decision.

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