USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton addressed the media after practice on Wednesday. He stressed the importance of winning on first down for the defense. Arizona’s quarterbacks are highly skilled at running and statistically only Louisville with their Heisman candidate quarterback Lamar Jackson are better at quarterback runs. These quarterbacks are able to set up the big gains from the run pass option on third and short situations which leads to long drives for the Wildcats.
This of course keeps Sam Darnold and the offense on the sidelines unable to score and the USC defense on the field for too long. This of course proved highly costly for the Trojans the last time they played on the road against Utah.
Clay Helton says the defense will look to get stops on first downs to throw the Wildcats off schedule and forcing them into second and third and long situations. This would force Arizona into situations they don’t want to be in by taking away the rushing ability of their quarterbacks and forces them to beat the USC defense through the air.
When the Trojans have the ball getting first downs, moving the chains, and sustaining drives will be critical. Arizona can run 80 to 100 plays per game. That keeps the defense on the field way to long which can be costly late in close games. The USC offense can help out by not only scoring points but sustaining long drives that consume clock and keeps the Trojans defense on the sidelines resting.
Therefore two things become critical for the USC offense. 1. do not turn the ball over. That should be obvious but the Trojans have struggled with turnovers. 2. Convert on third downs. Third down conversions are essential to sustaining long drives and are critical to what USC wants to do.
You can watch the full presser below:
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