Tuesday night after practice USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton broke down their upcoming opponent and this week it is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Helton was quick to point out right out of the gate that Notre Dame has lost 7 games on the year but all of them by 1 score.
DeShone Kizer is an elite QB who has led the Irish to 31 points per game. Much of the offensive game plan for the Irish is designed entirely around Kizer but they do use running back Josh Adams as well. Forcing a bad day for Kizer forces a bad day for Notre Dame. The Trojans have emphasized getting opposing quarterbacks off their spot, but Kizer and still create with his legs.
On defense the Irish have struggled but Helton is impressed with their front and their ability to create tackles for loss. Helton likes to keep his offenses balanced between the run and the pass so tackles for loss can put the Trojans behind schedule, take away the run, and thus the balance. Tackles for loss can really put a damper on the Trojans’ offensive game plan and the Irish will need to create many TFL because their secondary is suspect at best.
Helton and the coaching staff are expecting a close game like most of Notre Dame’s games this season. The fact that it is a rivalry game only ratchets things up even more. Notre Dame will need to try and create third and long situations, put the game on Darnold’s arm and hope he makes a few mistakes. Then the Irish offense will need to put up plenty of points and turn this game into a gun slinging shootout. This is Notre Dame’s best, if not only path to victory. To stop this Helton would love to put a damper on the tackles for loss, get the running game going, achieve offensive balance, keep scoring points, and chew up clock to keep DeShone Kizer off the field.
Notre Dame wants a shootout that takes Ronald Jones II and the Trojans’ running game out of the equation and puts it all on a young quarterback who throws interceptions on occasion dueling against their NFL-Caliber QB. USC wants a solid yet complete performance in all 3 phases that forces Kizer and the offense to defeat an entire team. If this game boils down to Kizer vs. Darnold then Notre Dame’s chances of victory go up. If this game comes down to Kizer vs. all of USC the Trojans should roll.
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu and Josh Fatu were back in practice but limited. Adoree’ Jackson left the UCLA game but was back in practice on Tuesday and is 100%. Jonathan Lockett was back working at nickel Tuesday but they will see how he progresses for Saturday. Keyshawn Young is in concussion protocol. Chad Wheeler had a wrist sprain but he taped it up and was good to go. Juju Smith-Schuster worked out a little bit but he was mostly held on Tuesday to get healed up after several injuries on Saturday against UCLA.
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