I sat down with Trenise Ferreira, lead editor of Reign of Troy, for a Trojan’s perspective on tomorrow’s game. Here is what he had to say:
1. What are the Trojans’ “keys to victory” over Arizona this weekend?
USC needs to have its offense running on all cylinders. We have seen glimpses of it this season, and when this star-studded unit is on, it’s unstoppable. Not only that, but they will need their defense to bring its A-game, something that is expected at this point with the way it has been stifling opponents all season. The Trojan D-line is a well-oiled machine, and if they can get sufficient pressure on Matt Scott, he will have a difficult time employing that lethal passing attack. Additionally, the Trojans will need to handle the hurry-up offense well, and rotate in defensive players as needed.
2. What concerns you most about this Saturday (or are you not concerned)?
Since it’s a day game, the game atmosphere is not nearly as menacing as if this had been scheduled at night. However, Zona’s aerial assault has been talked about much this season and it could really give USC a headache if they get complacent or tired. That is going to be the biggest issue–having fresh enough legs to contain the passing attack.
3. How can Arizona have the best chance to upset USC?
Arizona will have to keep an eye on not only USC’s star receivers, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, but also on their running backs Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd. Still, tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble have proven to be reliable targets over the middle, and they use their big frames to their advantage in isolation situations. If Matt Barkley gets into a rhythm with his receivers and USC’s O-line gets sufficient push against Arizona’s D-line to create space for the running backs, it will be lights out early in Tuscon. On the other side of the ball, preventing DE Morgan Breslin and DT Leonard Williams from unleashing havoc is essential if Zona wants to win this game. They have nearly 13 sacks between them, and have no intention of yielding productivity.
4. What does USC need to do most well to come away with a road win?
Play a complete game, all four quarters. The Trojans have killed opponents in the first, second, and fourth quarters, but have left much to be desired in the third. They have scored all of two times in the third quarter all season, not counting a kick return by Marqise Lee to open the second half against Hawaii. If the Trojans leave the door open in the third and have the lead, Arizona will be able to climb back into the game.
5. Other than Barkley, what other players do the Wildcats need to keep their eyes on?
Marqise Lee and Robert Woods obviously. We saw against Colorado (even though its just Colorado) that they are lethal and even more athletic than we thought, especially Lee. He has had some Reggie Bush-esque moves this season and is dangerous even with only a little wiggle room. Then there’s Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd, a running back tandem that bowl through defenders until someone physically brings them down. Defensively, the D-line and linebacker corps will be hard at work making the Wildcats’ offense uncomfortable, so Arizona will definitely have its hands full against this team.
6. Who from Arizona worries you the most?
Matt Scott and the passing game. Arizona touts one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country and no doubt they want to flex those muscles against USC.
7. What is the most intriguing thing about this game?
It will really say a lot about how USC finishes this seasons, with Oregon and Notre Dame looming around the corner. USC needs this win to further make a case for post-season glory.
8. Will Arizona have to deal with Kiffin’s “switching of the jerseys?”
Probably not. But we won’t know if he does until after the game, will we? It seems to be a move by Kiffin to keep all eyes on him and off his team, which is a very clever tactic.