Pancakes, penalties and a Pac-10 opener

ByABC News
July 22, 2014, 9:56 PM

— -- (Editor's note: USC senior lineman Travis Claridge will share a weekly diary with throughout the season. For more information on the Trojans, visit the official USC site.)

Sept. 23, 1999

We are very disappointed in our lackluster victory over San Diego State. I knew the Aztecs were a good team, but we still performed well below our standards. If we don't improve our execution, we'll be in for quite a shock on Saturday versus Oregon.

Personally, I felt I did OK against the Aztecs. I had 11 pancakes, three more than I had against Hawaii. "Pancakes" are what we call those blocks where you completely flip a defender on his back. Still, the whole line did not put out a consistent effort, just like the team as a whole. I feel that if we can just put it all together on offense, then we can't be beat.

I think our defense is even better than last year. If I were a defender, I'd be tired of covering for the offense. That's why I feel we have to improve quickly -- it's only fair.

I like Oregon's new uniforms. The helmets are cool. The Ducks are a good team. We lost to them last year up there. We played them close but it didn't quite work out. Their tailback (Reuben) Droughns is a good back and they have a good defensive scheme.

I've always liked Autzen Stadium. It's not really that big, but the fans are right on top of you and very close to the action. You can hear them yelling at you, getting personal. That really fires me up. The only way I can respond is to play hard.

My best friend from high school is coming to this game. I'm from Vancouver, Wash., so going back to the Pacific Northwest is always a treat. My dad will be there, too, and I'll be playing against (Oregon senior offensive lineman) Deke Moen, who I played against in high school, so it'll be almost like a homecoming.

I feel turnovers will be the key to this game. And penalties. We can't continue to shoot ourselves in the foot like we've been doing. Like I said, if we can just put it all together, we can't be beat. There's just too much speed on this team.

This is a huge game. It's the Pac-10 opener for both teams, and it'll show us what we're made of.

I hope we're up to the challenge.