Helton started out his Tuesday presser after practice as he normally does by assessing and praising the upcoming opponent. Helton had plenty of praise for the Arizona running game both from the running backs and all of the quarterbacks that Arizona has had to use. Helton said that no matter who starts at quarterback for the Wildcats he is prepared to play a talented quarterback who is highly adept at using the run pass option.
Last Saturday Arizona came right out of the gate against Utah with a perfectly executed rpo that went for a long touchdown. Getting pressure on the QB while also keeping contain will be critical to disrupting Arizona. USC has played well on defense this season and were critical to their victory over Colorado. The USC defense, however, has also struggled to contain (particularly on the left side) which has allowed mobile quarterbacks the ability to slip free for big gains even with pressure.
On defense the Wildcats bring plenty of pressure but they disguise it quite well. Helton said that Sam Darnold will need to work on reducing the turnovers and spend plenty of time in the film room to get more comfortable with all of the disguised pressure Arizona will bring on Saturday. Helton hopes for a big game from the USC offensive line so that they can get the running game going in Justin Davis’ absence in order to take the pressure off of Sam Darnold.
Playing on the road:
It is no secret that USC has struggled mightily on the road under Clay Helton. While the Trojans are undefeated (6-0) in the Helton era at the Coliseum they are a much more depressing 2-7 away from the Coliseum during the same time period. Helton said in Tuesday’s team meeting he talked to the team about the importance of mental toughness and discipline. Mental toughness as Helton defined it is not getting caught up in the excitement and distractions that come from an electric crowd and discipline in playing sound football despite the poor communication resulting from crowd noise. While all 3 of USC’s losses this season occurred away from the Coliseum Helton was quick to point out that the team has improved significantly in each road loss.
Jonathan Lockett was practicing on Tuesday he had a shoulder injury but is improving. John Houston Jr. is dealing with a knee injury but was able to practice on Tuesday. Michael Hutchings is dealing with a sore shoulder and he was limited in practice. Freshman Jordan Iosefa saw plenty of reps in practice in Hutchings’ place. Jabari Ruffin cleared concussion protocol so he will return to practice this week. Zach Banner participated in roughly have of practice and Helton said it went well so he will hopefully return to action this week. Because Banner has missed so much time he is going to be worked a little more slowly into game action. Justin Davis is dealing with a high ankle sprain that he suffered in the Colorado game. Helton said he is unlikely to play this Saturday against Arizona but he hopes Davis can return for Cal next week. senior tight end Taylor McNamara is still dealing with a back injury that is improving but he now also has a quad strain as well.
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