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Learning from the best: USC Trojans

Part of my responsibility here at Hudl is to provide support to our NFL and Division I partners. I had the honor of visiting a few of our Division I teams this past fall and was able to attend three of the best games of the college football season. It was hard to watch these games without doing a little bit of my own game study. Because I’m a coach, I’m always focused on the routines and schemes of a team. The games I attended provided some great insight into how top-level college programs operate. I found a few things that I will be utilizing next season with my own team.

I knew the games I attended were slated to be good games, but they all turned out to be great games that would rank among the top 10 games of the entire season. The games I attended were:

  • USC vs Stanford
  • Boise State vs TCU
  • Oregon vs USC

Here’s my observation on how USC utilizes one of the best offensive weapons in the country:

The buzz around this game involved a duel of two great QBs: Matt Barkley and Andrew Luck. While they were both fantastic in this game, I spent the majority of my time watching someone I found to be even more impressive: WR Robert Woods.

Woods’s athleticism and skill are well documented. He broke the Pac 12 record for most receptions in a season that was set by Keyshawn Johnson in 1995. What impressed me the most about him wasn’t the number of catches he had, but how he made those catches. The USC offensive staff does a fantastic job of moving Woods around. He can line up in the backfield, tight to the line of scrimmage, or split out wide. Even if you can figure out where he is lined up, chances are he won’t stay there long. He motions out of the backfield, in toward the formation, and even motions across the formation and back again.

Check out the following video and diagrams below to see how USC puts Robert Woods in great situations to use his skills:

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USC does a great job putting their top players in position to be successful. It is very hard to play great coverage on a player who is constantly lining up in different places and motioning. Credit the USC staff for this innovative and creative use of formations and motions. Unfortunately in the end, the game came down to one of the most basic tenants of football: ball security. The Trojans fumbled during the third overtime and finalized Stanford’s escape from the Coliseum. Final Score: Stanford 56 USC 48 3OT

In the next installment, I will cover the unique way Boise State prepares for their home games.

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