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USC vs. Arizona State: Field goals will not be good enough

The Red zone game plan was finalized on Thursday as the Trojans prepare for Arizona State

NCAA Football: Southern California at Utah Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Helton started off his presser after Thursday’s practice stressing the importance of finishing in the red zone. Field goals are not going to get it done. Helton stated the team that holds on to the football and does better in the red zone would be the team that wins this game. USC had plenty of problems with turnovers early in the game against Utah. With Arizona State’s offense scoring almost 50 points per game, 3 early turnovers may lead to an ASU route of USC. Therefore, while turnovers are never good for your offense, they are much worse against a team like Arizona State. As far as the red zone goes, it is simple math really, USC cannot settle for 3 if ASU keeps scoring 7.

Helton said USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast would be swapping in more players this game to avoid the kind of fatigue the defense faced at the end of the Utah game that allowed the Utes to mount a comeback. With the ASU uptempo offense that can run 80+ plays getting the USC defense some rest will be critical. Helton tentatively plans to get defensive backups into the game during the earlier parts of each half.

Handling the pressure coming from Todd Graham’s blitz heavy defense will be the key to success on offense according to Helton. The Coach said that USC is going have to do a great job protecting the quarterback and Sam Darnold is going to have handle the pressure when the protection fails. Zach Banner’s injury could be costly in this regard. The great news is that Utah is also a very blitz heavy defense and Sam Darnold handled himself quite well on the road, in the rain, and in his first start.

Injuries:

Zach Banner is still at about 80% and he will be a game time decision. Chuma Edoga and Jordan Simmons have been taking most of the reps at right tackle in Banner’s absence.

Jack Jones earlier in the week was at 50/50 as to whether or not he will play, now Helton thinks he will play on Saturday.

Dominic Davis suffered what we were told was a minor knee injury in Wednesday’s practice. On Thursday we found out he has a thigh contusion just above the knee and he will miss Saturday’s game.

You can watch the full presser below:

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