USC RB Travis Dye cautions that details are slipping in practice amid 5-0 start
Surely part of the attraction for USC with Travis Dye was his championship pedigree. He knows what it takes, and he knows the habits needed of title-contending teams.
Of course, the senior running back was going to be able to put up strong numbers in an offense his skillset is tailormade for. And so far he has. Last year’s Pac-12 all-purpose yards leader is currently fifth in that same category this season. But the mental side, the experience, the perspective that Dye could offer to a team hoping to chase titles was no doubt a major selling point when coach Lincoln Riley mapped out his offseason roster reformation.
And so when Dye met with reporters after Saturday’s win over Arizona State — a double-digit win to move to 5-0 — and expressed caution with the process, you just knew that he was sharing the same message in the locker room with his teammates.
“I feel like we’re slipping on the little stuff a little bit,” Dye said. “We need to put our main focus on the little stuff, and just realize that winning does not come easy. It’s not something you just get used to. You have to come week in and week out with everything you have because you’re gonna get everybody’s best shot. You go to USC with all this hype around it, you’re gonna get everybody’s best shot.”
USC beat Arizona State 42-25. The Trojans are sixth in the AP poll. The sky certainly isn’t anywhere close to falling, but Riley said after the game he didn’t like the way his group came out to begin the first half — a week removed from playing uncharacteristically poor on offense against Oregon State.
“We didn’t play the way we needed to overall in the first half,” Riley said. “We didn’t play that attacking, relentless way that we want to play on both sides. Our offense had some really good quality drives, but that wasn’t quite us. It wasn’t the edge that we’re used to playing with and that we expect to play with.”
Dye offered some insight into why.
“Some people don’t know what it’s like to lose on this team,” Dye said. “That can be a problem. But we’re going to get it right. We’re going make sure that our guys know that winning like this is very rare. … The energy level was not where we need to be, and that type of energy level will get us beat by better opponents. And they’re coming up, too, in a couple of weeks so we’ve really got to get this straight really fast.
“It’s not easy. It really isn’t. You ou come off a win like Oregon State and it’s almost this feeling like, ‘OK, we got over this hump, we made it,’ when that’s just not the case at all. You can’t have any type of time where you think that you’ve made it. Until the season’s over, you cannot think like that. You’ve got to keep pushing, keep moving forward.”
When Dye was with Oregon, he helped the Ducks to three straight Pac-12 title appearances in his final three seasons. That’s ultimately where USC wants to get this year, so his words no doubt carry a significant amount of weight in the locker room.
We’ll see how the Trojans look when they host Washington State Saturday evening. Kickoff at the L.A. Coliseum is set for 4:30 p.m. PT on FOX.