USC had a bye last week to correct a lot of things that has plagued them during the first five games. Head coach Clay Helton called it “self-scouting” or what others would mention it as looking at yourself in the mirror. The Trojans defense had some self-reflecting to do despite holding their end of the barging in games, They have had their share of issues that makes you shake your head. Just look towards the Washington State and Texas performances. This week they welcome No. 19 Colorado into the Coliseum for a critical Pac-12 south matchup. Colorado is the only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12 conference. Their offense will present another stiff test for the Trojans and Saturday will tell if any adjustments were made during the bye. What are some key things USC must execute on defense this Saturday?
Pressure The Quarterback
The USC pass rush has been close to non existent. Grant it the Trojans have Porter Gustin in there which helps the pass rush a little, however getting pressure on the quarterback has been a key issue for USC. Colorado quarterback Steven Montez has shown his ability to pick teams apart when given time. Montez has 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the year. We’ll see what adjustments Clancy Pendergast has made to improve in that area to make Montez very uncomfortable in the backfield and throw off the rhythm of a Colorado passing attack that’s averaging 293 yards per game.
Tackle, Tackle, Tackle
Tackling is going to be very important this weekend. Most of the big plays against the Trojans has come via missed tackles. USC took time before the Arizona game to correct this issue, however something as fundamental as tackling must come every practice. Colorado is no different and one missed tackle that turns into a big play could give them a lot of momentum on the road.
Beware of Laviska Shenault Jr.
The USC secondary will face off against the nations top wide receiver. Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault has had an outstanding season so far with 58 receptions for 708 yards and 6 touchdowns. He has also caught a touchdown pass in each game played this season. Last week against Arizona State Shenault had 2 touchdown receptions and 4 rushing receptions as he lined up in the wildcat formation. USC must keep an eye on the dynamic playmaker whenever he’s on the field. Senior Cornerback Iman Marshall will most likely draw the match up on Shenault, but expect the Buffaloes to line him up in different spots to draw different match ups. Ajene Harris and Isaiah Langley must come ready to defend and not allow the big play by one of the nation’s best players. If they can’t get that done then expect a long night for the USC defense.