Offense looks to regain its spark

USC’s defense was under fire during and after the Trojans’ blowout loss against Oregon, media and fans alike assessing the damage and possible causes.

But what of the offense?

“We played just as bad as the defense played,” tailback Joe McKnight said Wednesday after practice.

The offense hopes to regain its rhythm when the 12th-ranked Trojans play Saturday at Arizona State.


In its 47-20 loss at Oregon, USC produced 327 yards, it’s second-lowest output of the season. It managed only 76 yards and a third-quarter field goal in the second half.

“In the second half we just got off schedule,” play-caller Jeremy Bates said. “And they made us one-dimensional.”

Bates blamed himself for “pressing too early.”

“We just have to fight the urge and that’s on me,” he said. “We tried to open it up a little bit more in the third quarter, where if we would have just stuck with the first-half game plan. . . . I think we would have been better off.”

Bates is confident that the Trojans will get back on track at Sun Devil Stadium.

Arizona State has given up 296 yards a game and ranks 18th nationally in total defense.

“We just need to get back on the field,” he said.

“We’ve had a heck of a week of practice, and guys are hungry to get back and take care of business.”

Ayles on the spot

With tight end Anthony McCoy expected to be sidelined again because of an ankle sprain, Blake Ayles is hoping for another chance to make a big play.

Ayles muffed an opportunity against Oregon when he dropped a third-down pass from quarterback Matt Barkley that might have resulted in a first-quarter touchdown.

“I was just trying to catch it in stride when I should have just turned around and caught it,” Ayles said. “It was just a little reality check, like ‘Oh . . . he’s throwing it to me. Catch it, catch it. No! I did not just do that!’ ”

Barkley also overthrew a wide-open Ayles on a second-quarter play that probably would have been a touchdown.

Quick hits

Defensive tackle Armond Armstead (wrist) did not practice but said he would try to work out today. . . . McKnight and fellow tailback Allen Bradford returned to practice after sitting out Tuesday because of knee soreness. . . . Linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck) will not play Saturday, Carroll said. Defensive lineman Nick Perry (shoulder) did not practice and remains questionable. Defensive end Everson Griffen (toe) did not practice but has said he hopes to play.