1 Make USC’s quarterback throw the ball: Neither Cody Kessler or Max Wittek did anything in the Trojans’ season-opening win over Hawaii to inspire thoughts that either of those guys is “the” guy. And after Auburn rushed for 297 yards against WSU last week, it stands to reason that USC might try to do the same. The Cougars have to make one of USC’s unproven quarterbacks beat them by containing the Trojans’ ground game, even if Silas Redd is back in the lineup.
2 Make better decisions: Connor Halliday did a lot of things right in last week’s loss to Auburn – probably a lot more than fans want to credit him for. But he also made some undeniably poor decisions, the kind of decisions USC’s young but talented secondary will capitalize on if given the chance. WSU’s offense looked good enough to score points when it has to, but it will go as Halliday goes.
3 No special-teams gaffes: One kick return allowed for a touchdown is one too many to give up in an entire season. WSU already met that quota by allowing a 100-yard return for a score to Auburn’s Tre Mason last week. And this week, the ultra-elusive Marqise Lee will be returning kicks and punts for the Trojans. Containing him – and anyone else USC puts back there – will be paramount.
4 Force turnovers: Auburn’s lone turnover last week came when a running back coughed up the ball late in the game near midfield. Meanwhile, the Cougars gave it away three times. The defense needs to get the ball out of USC’s hands whenever possible to give Halliday and the offense a chance to keep slinging it.