Earlier this week Lane Kiffin noted that he would be looking at some positions to make potential changes because of performance issues.
While there have been a numerous games where we saw a lack of consistency at a number of positions, particularly on defense, one of the positions was Safety where many have of us saw the inconsistent play of Jawanza Starling. The coaching staff saw it as well and decided to give Marshall Jones increased reps with the first team defense with the hopes of more production at the position.
Today, Jones will get his shot to show us what he can do...
Safety Marshall Jones, slowed by injuries throughout his USC career, is expected to play a larger role Saturday night when the Trojans meet Arizona State in a Pacific 10 Conference game at the Coliseum.
Jones, a junior who starred at Westlake Village Oaks Christian High, redshirted last season after suffering a broken vertebra in his neck. He has played as a reserve or on special teams in every game this season, but worked with the starters this week and could alternate with Jawanza Starling against the Sun Devils.
'SC has had a string of bad luck with players getting injured with career ending or potential career ending injuries. Frankie Telfort and Jarvis Jones come to mind.
Jones has worked all the way back for this opportunity so he has to make the most of it.
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ASU is going to be a tricky match up. They have had an up and down season but they gave Oregon fits when they played them a few weeks back. Some discount the Sun Devils but 'SC can't afford to overlook anyone with how they have played this season...
2. It's a bad matchup
USC's 98th-ranked defense has fared best this season against run-oriented, "pro-style" offenses. The Trojans limited Virginia, Minnesota and Cal to an average of 16.3 points.
Arizona State does not play that style.
The Sun Devils run a version of the spread featuring frequent multiple-receiver formations. They have the second-most passing yards per game in the Pac-10. The Trojans have allowed the most.
Or, as Kiffin put it: "Their vertical passing game against our not-very-good pass defense."
USC's defense is more big than fast. The only spread-oriented team that didn't bedevil the Trojans was Washington State, which is 1-8.
I am not so concerned about ASU QB Steven Threet being being a threat to be mobile in ASU's version of the spread more than I am that USC's pass defense not being able to cover those multiple WR sets. We all saw how the middle of the field was wide open against Oregon. That is part of the reason why competition was opened up at the Safety spot.
If guys aren't paying attention out there it could be a very long night.
'SC can't get cocky just because they have owned ASU for a while...all streaks come to an end.
So these comments gave me pause...
The Sun Devils are not exactly Washington State, unless they play USC. Arizona State is without a victory in the series since 1999.
That might not sound relevant to today's game at the Coliseum, but even USC's players took some subtle shots at the Sun Devils throughout the week.
"(Osahon Irabor) is a freshman cornerback, he looks a little bit susceptible," USC quarterback Matt Barkley said.
That is about as close as Barkley has ever come to being critical of an opponent.
"They're a little bit inconsistent," USC linebacker Chris Galippo echoed.
Even linebacker Malcolm Smith, who missed the past three games with a sprained knee, said, "The quarterback (Steven Threet) throws some picks."These comments do not originate with players, who usually repeat something originally said by a coach in a team meeting.....
I don't care where the comments came from...Lane Kiffin is concerned about ASU's passing offense so I doubt he made the comment. 'SC has little, if any room to talk, especially on defense. Threet may throw a few picks but its not like the USC defense has been in position to make plays so the guys need to settle down and keep their mouths shut.
Christ, especially after that ass-whipping the Ducks put on them...at HOME...for HOMECOMING.
Just stop, please! You guys have no room to talk.
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Of course the one player everyone will be keeping their eye on is ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Lane Kiffin knows just how much of an impact Burfict can be out there...
The Arizona State middle linebacker, a Corona Centennial graduate who once pledged to play at USC before changing his mind, has been a hot topic of conversation around USC’s Howard Jones Field this week. The Trojans’ offense has spent time trying to figure out how to block or avoid him.
He’s that good.
"When he wants to turn it on, he just dominates the game," coach Lane Kiffin said. "I wish he was here."
But they’ve also spent some time telling themselves not to let his on-field theatrics and (they say) dirty play get them unhinged. Coming off a shutout win over Washington State, the talented ASU defense will be looking to slow down USC’s powerful offense Saturday night at the Coliseum.
There is no question that Burfict can play but he has also got a reputation as a cheap shot artist. In fact, ASU head coach Dennis Erickson benched Burfict earlier this season for a number of late hit penalties as well as throwing a punch against Oregon St.
A real quality guy...
Yes, 'SC wanted Burfict but he was never getting in with his grades...just like Oregon's Cliff Harris. Tremendous talents with enough space between the ears to park not one, but two modern day aircraft carriers.
And you just know that Burfict will looking to make some noise against 'SC for his home town faithful.
Barkley knows what to watch out for as well because he played against Burfict in high school...
Quarterback Matt Barkley, who went to Santa Ana Mater Dei High, played against Burfict four straight years in high school. He has a pretty good idea what to expect from him and two other ASU linebackers, Brandon Magee and Shelly Lyons, who also attended Centennial. In all, ASU has six players on its roster from the Riverside County school.
"Hits after the whistle or late hits out of bounds, trash talking," Barkley said. "We’re not going to go that way. He’s a good player and all three of those linebackers do certain things like that. Whatever. This weekend, we can’t go down that road."
Should be fun to watch...not!
You know Burfict is gunning for Barkley.
So join us here later here later on this evening. I am heading out to the Hamptons for the day to visit some friends but will be back in plenty of time for the game and I will have the thread up early.