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USC football: Trojans working to reduce penalties

October 23, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton works with quarterback Cody Kessler during a practice at USC. The two are hoping to cut down penalties in the game against Utah on Saturday.
USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton works with quarterback Cody Kessler… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

As USC prepares for Utah, Trojans offensive linemen are working this week to eliminate the kind of holding penalties that plagued the team in its 14-10 loss at Notre Dame.

USC was penalized 11 times for 95 yards, including four holding penalties by offensive linemen.

"Our coaches have really emphasized keeping our hands inside," said center Marcus Martin, who did not commit an infraction. "We're working on becoming fundamental offensive line technicians."

Quarterback Cody Kessler said he does not criticize linemen in the huddle for committing penalties. The Trojans were called for four false starts.

"They have so much stuff going on, especially in that loud environment, I don't want to bring attention to them in the huddle in a negative way," he said. "I'll be in there and say something positive like, 'It's all right, we'll get this one back' or 'Don't worry about it.' Or I'll say something that gets their mind off it so they're not beating themselves up.

"I'll always try to be positive."

Penalties also affected offensive coordinator Clay Helton's play-calling, especially in the running game.

"It felt very strong in the first half, like it was going, and we just couldn't stay on pace in the second half," he said. "We had some penalties that set you back and all of a sudden you're second and long and you're having to throw the ball and it takes you out of that game.

"And that's our strength right now -- running the ball and play-action. So we've got to stay on pace. Obviously, that's my responsibility as the coordinator."


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