When then-offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin famously called out USC wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett after catching just five passes for 35 yards at Arkansas, the All-American responded with 11 receptions, 136 yards and two touchdowns the next week against Nebraska.
Now head coach of the Trojans, Kiffin's critique of the running game has produced similar results.
USC has rushed for 187 and 205 yards in its last two games with just two negative runs in 89 carries.
"It was a good game for our offense," quarterback Matt Barkley said of the 24-21 win at Arizona. "I was proud of how we controlled the ball. That really stood out, especially in the fourth quarter. I'm happy with how our guys played, really physical. Proud of our O-line, they came back and were cutting guys, were downfield blocking. It was good to watch."
Center Kris O'Dowd, who has been singled out at times by Kiffin, said he is pleased by the improvement but wished it came before the team suffered three losses.
"We're being challenged in practice, we're being challenged by Coach Kiffin," O'Dowd said. "It's showing how we're responding to it. We're sick of being called out. The great thing is we're making progress and we need to do so this week."
The main beneficiary of the improved blocking has been redshirt junior Marc Tyler, who was quick to praise the line and fullback Stanley Havili for 119 and 160 yard games, the latter with a sprained ankle.
"The O-line is doing a great job," Tyler said. "Coach got on them a couple weeks ago and they've come back firing. It's easy for me with the line and behind Stanley."
Tyler was limited in practice Tuesday, but said he should be fine to play at Oregon State.
"I tried to go today. I did one play of 9-on-7 and I did individuals. In service, I did a couple but I couldn't cut," he said.
"Definitely going to get back by Thursday."
Bryant's Absence Explained
As the USC secondary has been shredded this season, fans and observers have wondered why junior T.J. Bryant has barely played.
It turns out the cornerback has been dealing with a shoulder injury. Kiffin said Bryant will meet with doctors and could undergo surgery later this week based on what they find.
"T.J. has really struggled, really tried to play through an injury. He's practiced for the most part but his shoulder isn't healthy," Kiffin said.
With Bryant limited and Brian Baucham out, freshman Anthony Brown saw reps at corner.
-S Jawanza Starling did not practice for the fourth consecutive day.
-The Beavers lost wide receiver James Rodgers to a knee injury at Arizona and quarterback Ryan Katz has yet to throw for more than 206 yards in his absence.
Oregon State's rush offense has also struggled without Rodgers tormenting defenses running the fly sweep.
"The production shows that. The production has not been what it was earlier in the year," Kiffin said.
But that doesn't mean USC won't have to prepare for it.
"They do a lot of the same things," linebacker Chris Galippo said. "They're still going to fly sweep and orbit motion, do all sorts of things to get the defense out-leveraged."
-Barkley said he suffered a slight hamstring pull at Arizona on a naked bootleg.
"I don't really stride out all too often," Barkley said.
The injury kept Kiffin from going back to the same play later in the fourth quarter, instead calling a Barkley pass intended for Havili that was batted down on fourth and two.