Joe McKnight rushed for a career high 143 yards against Arizona State, at an average of 13 yards per carry. This followed up performances of just 27 and 10 yards against the Oregon Schools. Some may consider the removal of McKnight from the punt team as the difference, enabling him to concentrate on working strictly through the offense. But there are other theories circulating about his sometime struggles, and one of them has to do with the time of day.
McKnight suffers from migraine headaches, and one belief is that he’s affected by the bright lights of night games. I’m not ready to jump on that theory, considering last weekend marked the only day game USC has played so far this year. He opened well against Virginia and Ohio State, averaging more than 8 yards per carry, before the numbers drastically decreased in conference play, averaging just 1.4 against the Beavers, and 3 yards against the Ducks. People were beginning to wonder what’s wrong with McKnight, until he broke out this weekend against the Sun Devils.
If anything, it says that conference opponents prepare a game plan to neutralize his abilities , forcing the Trojans to beat them with the rest of the cast. Against Oregon State, USC couldn’t do it. Against Oregon, McKnight’s dismal numbers didn’t matter. The career high against Arizona State also says Dennis Erickson and staff didn’t prepare for anything, resulting in a 28-0 loss that could have easily been worse.
If it is indeed the lights, keep in mind that USC has at least 3 night games remaining, with 2 others still waiting for the times to be announced.