USC vs. Arizona 4 things to watch: Trojans jump start run game

USC running back MarShawn Lloyd carries the ball during a victory over Nevada on Sept. 2.

MarShawn Lloyd carries the ball during USC’s victory over Nevada on Sept. 2.

(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

MarShawn Lloyd hit LeBron James’ silencer celebration after his first touchdown run against Colorado. Then USC’s running game went silent.

Lloyd, who rushed for 154 yards on 14 carries against Arizona State, finished with 84 on 13 carries against Colorado. USC had its least-efficient running game of the season, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry.

“We kind of got physically beat this game,” center Justin Dedich said.

With a 34-14 halftime lead, the Trojans handed the ball to a running back only six times during the second half. Riley acknowledged after the game he didn’t call the run game very well. Lloyd, who has emerged as the top running back over returning back Austin Jones, has taken the responsibility on himself to force Riley’s play-calling hand.

“If you’re on fire, you’re going to just keep getting the ball,” Lloyd said. “So my goal is to just make more plays and have no choice but to keep doing it.”

When the South Carolina transfer does get the ball, he’s running with efficiency: Lloyd’s 8.33 yards per carry ranks second in FBS for players with at least 10 rushes per game. USC’s 6.3 yards per carry is on pace to be its most efficient rushing season since 2005 — Reggie Bush’s Heisman year.

The former USC star has kept a close eye on his alma mater. Bush shared a video on Instagram of Lloyd’s 27-yard touchdown against Colorado, exclaiming “cut back on ‘em then” when Lloyd reversed field from left to right, caught key blocks from Williams and receiver Tahj Washington and ran untouched into the end zone. Seeing Bush’s praise for his play gave Lloyd goosebumps, the running back said.

“Everyone keeps saying that’s something that Reggie Bush probably would have did,” Lloyd said, “which definitely he would have did.”