USC's defense hasn't been as dominate as it has in the past.
The Trojans enter Saturday night's game against Notre Dame ranked 46th in scoring defense, giving up 23.5 points per game, and 56th in total defense, giving up 371.2 points per game.
But USC did look a lot better on defense in it win Thursday night against California, and that caught Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's attention.
"I think they've got a specific scheme that they like to employ. It's very similar to what we've seen," Kelly said. "They're very consistent in that respect. They're not going to give you just one look. They played well, they tackled well (Thursday). I think they got up on Cal and forced them to throw the football.
"I think one of the things that's really important to point out is Monte still has his influences in that defense. Ed Orgeron may be calling the game, I don't know for sure. But you can still see there are some Monte Kiffin influences in what they do defensively.
If they get up on you, they're a tough group to rally on. I think that is probably the biggest difference than anything else."
USC quarterback Matt Barkley will have a big hand in trying to get up early on Notre Dame.
Barkley didn't play in last year's loss to the Irish, but he did throw for 380 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-27 win in Notre Dame Stadium in 2009.
Kelly says he see similarities between Barkley, who has completed 152 of 223 passes for 1,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions, and the Irish's Tommy Rees, who is 140 for 212 for 1,503 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.
"I think it's in completion percentage. I think it's in efficiency," Kelly said of the two quarterbacks' similarities. "I think this year the difference is the big play threat down the field, and Barkley going to that and using those opportunities to get big plays. That's obviously something that we want to continue to grow with Michael Floyd. We think we've got a big play guy down the field as well.
"So, yeah, there is no question that both of them have developed. I think it's been in efficiency, completion percentage, and now they're look for the big play."