LOS ANGELES -- The reason why USC is committing so many penalties this season, according to receiver Robert Woods, is not a team-wide lack of discipline or a target on the Trojans' backs because of their preseason No. 1 ranking.
It's pride -- and not too little of it.
"I feel like this team has too much pride," Woods said on Tuesday. "Some people say you can never have too much pride, but when you see it, it's a brothership here."
After last week's 13-penalty effort in a loss at Arizona, USC has committed 82 penalties in its eight games this season, for an average of over 10 per contest. The Trojans are now committing 20 percent more than any of the other teams in the FBS.
A large portion of them are costly personal fouls, too, including six against the Wildcats.
"When you're making the penalties, you don't really know the situation, because emotions are up," Woods said. "Once we actually settle down and watch the film and see all the penalties that happen and see the situations, it's just dumb mistakes."
The mistakes are typically coming after provocation from opponents, Woods said.
"It's retaliation after the whistle, that's all it pretty much is," Woods said. "We just need to be smarter in situations."
Woods cited one example from the win over Colorado earlier this month: backup receiver George Farmer was "cheap-shotted" on the opening kickoff, so linebacker Anthony Sarao matched it with a cheap shot of it his own on the next kickoff.
He said he thought the team's overall aggressiveness was fine, but at times there's too much of an emphasis on payback or revenge.
"We just don't want anybody to feel like they overpowered [us]," Woods said.
USC coach Lane Kiffin said his team's continued struggle with penalties was "extremely discouraging." Asked about it Tuesday, he said he was "completely shocked that we're still having these conversations at this point in the year."