USC 2006: Game #3 Arizona
When: September 23rd
Where: Tucson, Arizona
2005 Record: 3-8 (2-6 Pac-10)
Last year USC beat The Wildcats 42-21 at the Coliseum. Head coach Mike Stoops has had 2 years to rebuild and this year the Arizona faithful want to see results. This year could be that year. Their defense has improved with a very talented secondary and linebacking corps. They have had flashes of brilliance with their win over undefeated UCLA and Oregon St. last year.
The Arizona Offense:
QB Willie Tuitama needs to be consistent if he is to be successful. He had a great game against UCLA and Oregon St. but then had 5 TO's vs. Washington. With Mike bell gone the running duties will fall to Jr. Chris Henry but he has had some issues holding on to the ball so freshman Xavier Smith is available if it continues to be a problem. Receivers Sr. Syndric Steptoe, Jr. Anthony Johnson and Soph. Michael Thomas are a little undersized but have some promise. The Offensive Line has to replace two starters possibly with freshman Borg and Britton and looks to be more talented and experienced than past O lines.
The Arizona Defense:
If the Defensive line can stay healthy they are projected to be one of the more improved units this year. They have more talented players who can start than positions to fill. The Linebackers were hit hard by injuries last year but expect to be very talented and very experienced. The Secondary also looks to be very experienced this season and could one of the better secondaries in the Pac-10.
This game worries me just a bit. SC had their way with AZ last year. A talented and experienced AZ defense going up against a new and inexperienced though very talented USC offense in Tucson could possibly lead to less than desired results. If the SC O Line needs contain the pass rush and give booty some time. This AZ team is much improved and has a lot of talent. They have taken down Goliath in the past so the can get up for a big game. Being only the third game of the season it is possible that AZ could catch SC napping and work the bugs out with a new offense.
The AZ offense has some promise but with some undersized receivers establishing the run to set up the pass might not be enough. The SC defense needs to do what it does best and force turnovers. With Henry's history of putting the ball on the turf SC can feast on some key turnovers. In the end I think SC will win this game but they need to be ready for a pretty good AZ defense and stay sharp by not giving up the defensive play.