Saturday night will feature USC hosting No. 19 Colorado in a key Pac-12 South meeting in Los Angeles. The Trojans are coming off a bye week while Colorado had a narrow 28-21 victory over Arizona State at home. A lot will be on the line this Saturday as the Buffaloes are the Pac-12’s lone undefeated team while USC will have their 18 game home winning streak on the line. Colorado have also never defeated the USC, going 0-12 against the Trojans. As USC head coach Clay Helton stated this week, the winner will control their own destiny in the Pac-12 south. If USC wants to be in that position they’ll have to straighten some things out against Colorado.
USC was an absolute mess against Arizona in the penalty department. The Trojans committed 18 penalties for 169 yards. Through out the bye week, discipline was a point of emphasis and against Colorado USC will have to play clean football to win. The Trojans can’t allow drives to stall or extend the Colorado drive. If USC wants to win then disciplined football is a great start.
Find Offensive Success Once Again
USC had a great offensive game plan two weeks ago. This week against Colorado, they must have that same success. USC running game was alive and kicking while the passing game was also there for JT Daniels despite under throwing a couple of his receivers. The talent is there for USC to move the ball and score against the Buffaloes, but will it be consistent? Clay Helton challenged offensive coordinator Tee Martin to be a little more aggressive and to play to win so we will see if it translates to Saturday night.
Pressure the quarterback
The pass rush has had it’s share of issues during the first five games of the season. Colorado junior quarterback Steven Montez has shown that he will pick a defense apart when given time, however most of his throws come from screens and dink/dunk passes that leads to a good 6-8 yards. Colorado offensive line has allowed 10 sacks all season. USC must create pressure to throw off the timing of Montez and the Buffaloes offense. If USC can do that then they’ve won half the battle right there. That’s easier said than done at this moment, but USC must get some type of pass rush to get to Montez.
Find and slow down Laviska Shenault Jr.
One of the top players in the nation in Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. will be on full display against the USC defense. Last week Shenault had 4 total touchdowns, 2 receiving and 2 rushing. Colorado will line him up all through the field, so Trojans defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and the USC defense must be prepared for anything thrown their way. Senior cornerback Iman Marshall will draw the match up on Shenault a majority of the night, however look for the Colorado receiver to draw different match ups. The ultimate goal is to not allow for him to get the “Big Play”.
Clean up the snap issues
USC Senior center Toa Lobendahn and freshman quarterback JT Daniels have had their share of issues with the snap. Through the weeks it has not improved a lot. Snaps either too low, too high, or Daniels is not catching the snaps which leads to turnovers or loss of yardage. Against a Colorado, in a game of this magnitude, bad snaps will indeed throw off the timing and will lead to turnovers. Were their adjustments made to clean up those issues and did Daniels and Lobendahn get their timing with the snap down during the bye week? We will find out.