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USC vs. Arizona: Q and A with Arizona Desert Swarm

We spoke with AZ Desert Swarm to preview the Wildcats

Colorado v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

1. Who will be playing qb for Arizona and what can we expect from them?

I think Khalil Tate will be playing quarterback this week. However, that's what I thought last week and Brandon Dawkins still started. Dawkins is currently questionable, which, under Rich Rodriguez, has typically meant that he's out. Given last week, though, I wouldn't be surprised to see either one. Regardless of who starts, though, the attack will look pretty much the same: there will be a heavy dose of read-option runs, a lot of quarterback runs (either out of the read-option or designed runs), and the occasional pass that catches the defense off-guard. Dawkins and Tate are both runners, first and foremost, so expect a lot of that on Saturday.

2. What will Arizona need to do in order to beat USC?

Oh boy. A lot. As I wrote in our preview this week, I think USC is sneaky good. USC's efficiency numbers on both offense and defense are top thirty in the country, and the Trojans smoked Arizona State a few weeks ago. Best case scenario for the Wildcats, I think, is that they are able to run the ball consistently, limit turnovers, and play bend-but-don't-break defense. If everything goes right and some things go wrong for USC, maybe that's a 35-28 win for the Wildcats. But I don't think that's a particularly likely outcome.

3. The Pac-12 south is ultra competitive once again and Rich Rodriguez's team seems to be falling behind, is he on the hot seat?

No. This is a down year for Arizona, to be sure, but Rich Rodriguez led the Wildcats to 10 wins and the Fiesta Bowl just a few years ago, so he's safe at least for this year. While the results on the field have been disappointing, Arizona's recruiting has improved immensely this year after Rodriguez replaced most of the defensive coaching staff, so I expect he has at least a year and maybe two to fix what's wrong.

4. USC has struggled with turnovers this season, what kind of success has Arizona had this year with creating and capitalizing upon turnovers?

Very little. Arizona only has five interceptions on the season (which is tied for last in the conference), and three of those came against Grambling State's back-up quarterback. Arizona has four fumbles that it recovered for turnovers - again, three of those were against Grambling State. Arizona has not been able to turn the ball over against FBS competition this season, so if that's USC's weak spot, the Wildcats are not well-positioned to take advantage.

5. Besides a win, what would you like to see from the Wildcats on Saturday?

Speaking of turnovers - I'd like to see the defense cause some havoc on defense. Arizona's defense is currently 71st in the country in "havoc rate," which is the percentage of plays in which a defense records a tackle for loss, forced fumble, pass break-up, or interception. They haven't been able to do that so far this season, instead giving up chunks of yards consistently as the offense marches down the field. A few turnovers against the Trojans would go a long way into making me feel better about the defense's performance so far this season.

6. What is your game prediction?

I think USC takes this comfortably. Arizona will score, to be sure, but they won't be able to stop the Trojans. I'll say USC 45, Arizona 31.