The USC Trojans survived a big scare against 21st rank Colorado Buffaloes in a thrilling 21-17 home win this past Saturday. They now head up to the desert on this weekend to face the Arizona Wildcats (2-4, 0-3). USC survived a shootout with Arizona last year at the Coliseum with a 38-30 win.
Arizona is coming off a tough 36-23 road loss to the Utah Utes. After 14-3 lead in the second quarter, the Wildcats allowed 26 points in which they could not recover from. They were led by quarterback Brandon Dawkins who threw for 243 yards and a touchdown and Trey Griffey who had four catches for 109 yards.
USC was able to overcome four turnovers as quarterback Sam Darnold delivered an otherwise great performance. The redshirt freshman completed 25 out 37 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns. Darnold, who seems to be getting better every week, made a number of great throws to his receivers and also showed his improvisational abilities on some good runs. Despite racking up over 500 total yards of offense, the Trojans could only score 21 points (largely because of turnovers) but it was still enough for the victory.
Another key factor for USC was the rushing attack. Senior running back Justin Davis led the team with 92 of the teams 206 rushing yards. Davis ran efficiently through the tackles early in the game but did suffer an ankle injury later. If he is not ready to go, Ronald Jones and Aca’Cedric Ware will gain much of the load.
Arizona’s biggest concern coming into this week’s game will be the play of their quarterback. The Wildcats have gone through at least three quarterbacks as their star signal caller from last season, Anu Solomon, has been suffering from a knee injury that has kept him out all season. Backup Brandon Dawson came in but has been banged up due to injures as well so Freshman Khalil Tate has had to step in.
One of the biggest improvements that USC has made is on the defensive side. The relentless pressure the front seven was able to get on Colorado made a huge difference in limiting Quarterback Steven Montez to only 197 passing yards and three sacks. With Arizona struggling at quarterback, USC will need to make their presence known early and be physical at the line of scrimmage.
The Wildcats will be keeping a very close eye on USC All-American athlete Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson had an incredible interception last weekend as he was able to leap high in the air and snag the pass while keeping one foot in bounds towards the sideline. Arizona will definitely try to monitor where Jackson is on the field at all times. He also has a 47 yard punt return that put the Trojans in good field position. Having a playmaker of his caliber returning the ball gives USC a threat to score almost every time.
Last year’s matchup saw a break out performance from Ronald Jones. The running back set a school freshman record with 177 rushing yards and also caught a touchdown pass as well. As Justin Davis might not be able to go, Jones will be asked to step up and deliver another big performance against Arizona. The last two meetings between these two teams have been close usually coming down to who has the ball last. USC has a clear advantage with their offense running more smoothly under Sam Darnold and the defense playing at a high level.
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