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USC vs. Arizona: Coach Sarkisian Talks About Beating The Wildcats

The Trojans have their hands full this weekend.

Tailback Nick Wilson ranks 18th overall in rushing.
Tailback Nick Wilson ranks 18th overall in rushing.
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into USC's first top-ten test of the season, the Trojans are confident their continual improvements in the overall process will provide a boost of confidence against the up-and-coming Arizona Wildcats. USC has won six of its past eight games against the Wildcats, but each of the last seven games have been decided by just seven points or less.

Despite the seemingly close gap in competition, head coach Steve Sarkisian is outwardly confident his team can bounce back from a disappointing loss via the Hail Mary.

"We are getting better and I'm proud of the effort our guys are putting in," Coach Sarkisian said Monday in his weekly video interview.

USC will look to overcome adversity following a disappointing loss at the hands of the Arizona State Sun Devils, facing a fast-paced Arizona attack. Rich Rodriguez's rushing attack has paced 100 yards in 27 consecutive games. Redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon, who earlier this season set the (since broken) Pac-12 record for total offense (566 yards) against California, is No. 4 in the nation in total offense and No. 7 in passing offense.

"Arizona is very unique, they really call a run play and a pass play on every down," Sarkisian said. "I think Rich Rod is a tremendous coach, he'a one of the pioneers of the spread offense and does a great job of implementing it and then executing it on Game Day."

In order for the Trojans to win, especially playing in a hostile road environment, Sarkisian said his team needs to do well on first and second down. If USC's offense can pick up positive yards both on the ground and through the air, the Trojans can build upon their much improved third down offense from last season.

Led by the Pac-12's leading rusher in Buck Allen (115.2), and an explosive backup tailback in Justin Davis, the Trojans' running game will look to piece together another 100-yard rushing performance against a recently stout Arizona defense that limited Oregon to a season low in yards per carry.

The Trojan defense will be severely tested against the U of A dual-threat attack, and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will be put on the spot (possibly for his job) to slow down Anu Solomon, a unique passer that can really sling the football.

"Anu is a heck of a player, he can really throw it. (He's) Much more of a thrower than a runner," Sarkisian said.

Here's Steve Sarkisian's full question and answer session with the school web site:


-This will be the sixth time that USC has faced Arizona State and then Arizona in consecutive games.

-The executive video producer of USC's official athletic website ( shares the same name as Arizona's head coach, Rich Rodriguez. They met for the first time at the 2012 Pac-12 Football Media Day.

-USC has a 61-27* record against teams that start with the letter "A"

-The Trojans hold a 28-8 lead in their series with the Arizona Wildcats, including a 11-4 winning clip in Tuscon.

-USC played 45 scholarship players vs. ASU, matching its total from the Oregon State game but also ran 95 total plays, the most since a record-setting 105 plays vs. Fresno State.

-USC has just one player on its roster from Arizona in snapper Peter McBride, while the Wildcats feature 35 players from California. That said, USC only actively recruited two current Wildcats.