Would it have killed Will Sutton to go pro? Expect to be thinking some variation of that at least a dozen times during the game. Projected as a late first rounder following last season, Sutton surprised a number of college football followers when he decided to come back to school; to the delight of Sun Devils fans and the dismay of the rest of us.
After recording 10.5 sacks last season and leading the Pac-12 in tackles for loss per game at nearly two its clear that while the Sun Devils may start eleven players on defense, everything revolves around the man up front.
It's easy to look at the 17 points USC put up last week against Utah State and have our first thought be, "wait, 17? Against Utah State?" After all, Utah State isn't in one of the power conferences and we all know the only team worth our time outside those is Boise State.
It's easy to look at those 17 points, stare across the line at Will Sutton, remember how bad the offensive line looked at times and just throw our hands up in the air in defeat. However, the scoreboard didn't tell the entire Trojan story last week.
All throughout the game Cody Kessler had to watch perfectly placed throws bounce off the hands of his receivers. Whether it was All-American Marqise Lee continuing his season long issues with drops or Randall Telfer having a beautiful pass slide off his fingers Kessler just couldn't catch a break.
While Lee may be dealing with ongoing problems we can otherwise expect the ultra-talented receiving core to hold onto the ball this week.
The biggest reason for Trojan optimism heading into the game is Randall Telfer dropping that pass. On the surface that's a statement that doesn't make very much sense but if we dive into last week's game plan we find a reassuring emphasis on the two NFL caliber tight ends lining up for USC.
Both Telfer and Xavier Grimble have found themselves under utilized to near offensive levels during their time at USC. While neither put up statistically overwhelming days last Saturday, both have the talent to take over games and finally saw themselves on the receiving end of multiple targets against the Aggies.
Between an increased role for the tight ends, Tre Madden continuing to pound the rock and Cody Kessler finally having played a game start to finish, look for the Trojans to look better on offense this week.
Will Sutton is going to make his share of plays against a shaky Trojan offensive line but not enough to keep USC from sustaining a handful of drives. The Trojans aren't going to jump out to a 39-7 lead on ASU like Stanford did but look for them score in the low thirties and leave Tempe with a close victory.