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Trojans find their identity

LOS ANGELES -- Every year around this time, college football coaches are asked if they know their team's identity yet. The best teams at any level can usually win in a variety of ways, but there's definitely something to be gleaned from coaches' answers to that question.

You get an idea of what they'd like their identity to be, at least.

"I hope it is what we saw last week," Lane Kiffin said in response to the identity question Wednesday. "That was a great identity."

The Trojans' 27-9 win over Cal involved five key aspects: being physical overall, running the ball, stopping the run on defense, protecting the passer on offense, and rushing on defense.

Kiffin made no mention of actually passing the ball. The assumption is that would come naturally with protecting the passer.

"If teams are going to play us in normal coverages, I think we know what can happen," Kiffin said, bringing up the season opener against Hawaii and contrasting it with how the Trojans have been defended since. "(But) if defenses are going to keep playing this way, we have to have this other element, which we did last week.

"I'm hoping that's the identity of our team, not what we did seven days before that."

Seven days before Cal, of course, was Stanford, against whom USC scored just 14 points and rushed for 26 yards.

That's obviously not what Kiffin would like to be the Trojans' identity. But it is interesting he would be so quick to mention the run game, when his team's natural passing talent is clearly superior.

Maybe that's all part of the plan.