USC defensive linemen intend to turn up the pressure when the Trojans play Saturday at Oregon State.
USC ranks seventh in the Pacific 10 Conference with only 22 sacks. But there could be more opportunities against a Beavers offensive line that includes several walk-ons and former walk-ons and gives up nearly three sacks a game.
The Trojans’ much-maligned pass defense, ranked 116th among 120 major college teams, could certainly use a strong game from the line.
“We’ve talked about it,” defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said. “We need to get to the quarterback and take the pressure off the [defensive backs].
“With pressure and getting sacks we probably could have prevented touchdowns this year.”
Casey and tackle DaJohn Harris each have 3 ½ sacks for a line that has been hurt by the injury-related absences of ends Wes Horton and Nick Perry.
Horton had three sacks before suffering a back injury against Washington State. He sat out three games and has not had a tackle for a loss in three games since returning.
Perry has nursed an ankle injury the entire season. He had three sacks through seven games but hasn’t had any since Oct. 16 against California.
“I think teams expect our pass rush and just get the ball off quick,” Harris said. “It just seems like whenever we play against teams, they seem to do things different.”
Coach Lane Kiffin lamented that the Trojans did not practice well Tuesday and Wednesday, citing a lack of intensity.
Kiffin said players might be ill-advisedly “feeling good about themselves because of a couple of wins.”
Kiffin is hoping for a better effort Thursday as the Trojans prepare for a Beavers team coming off an upset loss to Washington State.
USC’s struggles at Reser Stadium the last three trips there are well chronicled, but Kiffin said guarding against overconfidence is paramount.
“That’s a challenge, a huge concern,” he said.
The forecast for Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday calls for temperatures in the 30s with a 60% chance of rain.
The Trojans have been practicing this week with wet footballs to prepare for the wet conditions.
Cornerback T.J. Bryant said he had an MRI exam on his left shoulder Wednesday and was scheduled to meet with doctors in the evening to find out whether surgery was necessary. Bryant had shoulder surgery while in high school in Florida. He played in one game this season…. Tailback Marc Tyler (ankle) was limited but is expected to start Saturday…. Safety Jawanza Starling (hamstring) remains sidelined. Cornerback Torin Harris did not practice because of an unspecified condition…. USC is 59-10-4 against the Beavers. With the Pac-10 expanding next season, the Trojans won’t play the Beavers again until 2013.