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Five things we learned in USC’s victory over Oregon State

Eighteenth-ranked USC defeated Oregon State, 35-10, on Saturday at the Coliseum.

USC improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12 Conference.

Here are five things we learned about the Trojans:

Ability to bounce back

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USC proved in its 35-10 victory over Oregon State that it has the ability to bounce back from a disappointing loss.

The Trojans were embarrassed on Sept. 13 when they were defeated, 37-31, by Boston College — a 17-point underdog.

After an abysmal performance in Boston, USC’s defense held Oregon State to 181 yards — the fewest by a USC opponent since 2009, when San Jose State had 121.

And USC’s offense started to find its stride too. USC Coach Steve Sarkisian’s up-tempo offense hit its plays-per-game goal, running 81 plays for 461 yards of total offense.

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Offensive identity

Sarkisian remains dedicated to the running game, despite the Trojans’ inability to run the football at Boston College.

USC rushed for 200 yards in 48 carries against Oregon State.

Javorius Allen has become the focal point of the offense. He rushed for 117 yards in 20 carries and a touchdown. Allen also had five receptions for 23 yards. He has a team-best 14 receptions, as a tailback, in the last two games.

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Quarterback Cody Kessler completed passes to nine players against Oregon State.

Four games into the season, Sarkisian’s passing game involves spreading the ball around to multiple players (with exception of the victory at Stanford, when only four players had receptions).

Eight players had receptions in the defeat at Boston College and 10 players caught passes in the opener against Fresno State.

Su’a Cravens is a linebacker

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Sophomore Su’a Cravens insisted he was a safety — until this week — when his coach told him he was needed at linebacker.

Cravens made his first start as a strongside linebacker against Oregon State and the results were impressive.

Cravens made a team-best six tackles — two for a loss — and intercepted a pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. It was Cravens’ first career touchdown.

Cravens said this week that he weighed 230 pounds and that his weight would determine if he continued to play linebacker or returned to safety.

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After his performance against Oregon State, it would be hard to justify moving him back to the secondary.

Tight end sightings

USC finally got its tight ends involved in the offense against Oregon State and it was effective.

Freshman Bryce Dixon and fifth-year senior Randall Telfer had a combined four receptions for 73 yards.

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In USC’s first three games of the season, Dixon and Telfer had four receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Aundrey Walker is ready to play

Much has been made over the absence of senior offensive lineman Aundrey Walker from USC’s lineup.

Center Max Tuerk has the most career starts, but Walker is a close second and could provide the team with needed experience on the line.

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Walker broke his ankle last season against UCLA and his recovery has taken longer than expected.

But on Saturday, he was rotated in on the offensive line. Some of USC’s most effective running plays against Oregon State came when Walker was in blocking.

Walker said after the game that he was ready to play and is competing for a starting job on the offensive line.

Questions about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will answer questions in a weekly USC Now mailbag.

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