LOS ANGELES -- Through three games this season, the USC Trojans have tried to pass the ball nearly two out of every three times they've run a play.
Out of nearly two hundred play calls, USC coach Lane Kiffin has called for 122 passes and 74 rushes, making for a very extreme ratio. But Trojans running back Curtis McNeal, USC's No. 1 running back entering the year, said Tuesday is he not surprised at the imbalance.
He said he expected Kiffin to call more passes than runs this year. Why?
"I just expected it," McNeal said. "That's all. I guess when you have a big-time quarterback and big-time receivers, you have to expect that."
But McNeal, who's averaged fewer than eight carries this year after getting more than 17 per game in the final half of last season, said it needs to change going forward if the Trojans are going to have sustained success this season.
Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods can't do it all, essentially, McNeal said. It's up to the run game to lead USC to offensive success this week against Cal and in upcoming games.
"It'll have to be (a bigger part)," McNeal said Tuesday. "That's the only way we're going to win. We can't just depend on Barkley and Marqise and Woody all day to make plays.
"Other guys on the team need to step up -- that's pretty much what we need to do."
McNeal and Silas Redd, USC's other key back, are both averaging just under five yards a carry -- not great numbers, but just fine. But they're not getting the opportunities they would normally get.
Last season, for example, the Trojans tried to pass the ball 56 percent of time and run 44. That sounds like what McNeal's hoping for.
"We can't be too dependent on three people when there's 11 people out there," McNeal said. "We have to use everybody. That's only gonna make us better because then other teams can't just focus on the three, they'll have to focus on everybody, not just three people."