Game 5: Arizona Wildcats (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) at USC Trojans (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12)
Date/Time/Location: Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. (PDT) at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (93,607 capacity) in Los Angeles
Television: Fox Sports 1 (Justin Kutcher, Petros Papadakis, Joel Klatt, Kristina Pink)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network, 1290 AM and 107.5 FM in Tucson (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett, Dana Cooper)
Game Notes: Arizona, USC
Odds: USC (-5), O/U 55 (Odds Shark)
Meet the Coaches
Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez is in his second season with the Wildcats after stints at Salem (1988), Glenville State (1990-1996), West Virginia (2001-2007) and Michigan (2008-2010). Over the course of his 19 seasons as a head coach, the 50-year-old Rodriguez possesses a 131-90-2 career record. In his debut season with the Wildcats, Arizona went 8-5 including a dramatic win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. It was Rodriguez’s first debut winning season and first bowl appearance in a debut season. He also tied Jim Young for most wins in a coach’s first season at Arizona. At the three schools he coached for more than one year, Rodriguez increased his win total from the first to the second season, averaging a 3.67 win increase from year one to year two.
USC’s Ed Orgeron is making his debut as Trojans head coach after he took over following the dismissal of Lane Kiffin. Orgeron previously served as an assistant coach at Northwestern State (1984), McNeese State (1985), Arkansas (1986-1987), Miami (Fla.) (1988-1992), Nicholls State (1994), Syracuse (1995-1997), USC (1998-2004, 2010-2013), New Orleans Saints (2008) and the Tennessee (2009). The 52-year-old was also the head coach at Mississippi from 2005-2007, amassing a 10-25 record as head coach. Over his nearly 30 years of coaching, Orgeron has held the following positions: head coach, associate head coach, recruiting coordinator, defensive line coach, linebackers coach, assistant strength coach and graduate assistant.
The Arizona defense kept them in the game in their Pac-12 opener against Washington, but continuing offensive struggles ultimately led to a 31-13 loss at the hands of the Huskies.
Quarterback B.J. Denker, who had only thrown one interception in 92 career pass attempts, finished 14-for-35 for 119 yards and two interceptions. Running back Ka’deem Carey shouldered the load on offense, running for 132 yards and a touchdown and catching four passes for 49 yards.
Safety Jared Tevis led the defense with 13 tackles and added a forced fumble and two passes broken up. Cornerback Shaquille Richardson had three tackles and an interception.
On the season, the Wildcats rank 72nd in the country in total offense, averaging 402.8 yards per game, and 10th in rushing offense, averaging 191.5 yards per game. However, they rank 120th out of 124 teams in passing offense, averaging only 111.3 passing yards per game.
Carey ranks fifth in the country in rushing yards per game, averaging 143.67 yards per contest. He has ran for 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns in his last seven games. Denker ranks 93rd in the country in total offense, averaging 180.5 yards per game.
A year after ranking 122nd in the nation in total defense, Arizona is only yielding 335.0 yards and 14.3 points per game, good for 23rd and ninth in the country, respectively.
Linebacker Scooby Wright leads the team with 28 tackles, followed by Tevis (27) and safety Tra’mayne Bondurant (23). Bondurant also leads the team with three interceptions – two of which he returned for touchdowns – and three passes broken up.
The defense might take a hit if linebacker Jake Fischer‘s injured ankle keeps him out of the game. If he can’t go, linebacker Hank Hobson will likely make his second career start at middle linebacker.
Special teams has struggled a bit, as punter Drew Riggleman ranks 97th out of 99 qualified players in average yards per punt and kicker Jake Smith is tied for 64th in percentage of field goals made.
The return game isn’t much better, as the Wildcats rank 110th in kick return average and 60th in punt return average, averaging 18.4 and 8.0 yards per return, respectively.
The Trojans got a much-needed bye week after a 62-41 blowout loss to Arizona State that resulted in the end of the Lane Kiffin tenure in Los Angeles.
Interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who was the coach of Missisippi from 2005-2007, will make his USC head coaching debut after more than 10 years as a Trojans assistant. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who was coordinator by name only, will call plays for the first time.
Similar to Arizona, the Trojans have succeeded on defense and struggled on offense.
USC ranks 89th in the country in total offense, averaging 380.4 yards per game. They rank 50th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 190.6 rushing yards per game, and 104th in the country in passing offense, averaging 189.8 passing yards per game.
Running back Tre Madden, who has rushed for at least 93 yards in each of the Trojans’ five games, will get some help in the backfield with the return of running back Silas Redd. Increased depth in the backfield will likely take some of the pressure off quarterback Cody Kessler, who has only averaged () passing yards per contest this season.
Kessler will also likely be without All-American wide receiver Marqise Lee, who is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last game. Five of USC’s eight scholarship receivers will either play injured or miss the game.
Despite allowing 62 points and 612 yards to Arizona State, the Trojans defense ranks 14th in the country in total defense, allowing only allowing 306.8 yards per game, and 36th in scoring defense, allowing 21.2 points per game.
USC has three players ranked in the top-50 in the country in sacks – defensive linemen George Uko and Morgan Breslin and linebacker Devon Kennard – and as a team rank tied for 10th in the nation with 16.0 sacks. However, Breslin will likely miss the game due to injury.
Punter Kris Albarado is one of best in the conference, as he’s pinned 12-of-28 punts inside the 20-yard line and has had only one punt go for a touchback. Kicker Andre Heidari has made 4-of-7 field goals and 16-of-17 PATs. With Lee most likely out, the Trojans will probably rely on Nelson Agholor to handle the punt and kickoff return duties.
Arizona Injury Report
Questionable: Linebacker Jake Fischer (ankle)
Out: Wide receiver Austin Hill (knee), offensive lineman Beau Boyster (knee, season-ending), linebacker Cody Ippolito (knee, season-ending)
USC Injury Report
Probable: Running back Justin Davis (knee), wide receiver De’von Flournoy (ankle), running back Silas Redd (knee), wide receiver Darreus Rogers (ankle)
Questionable: Cornerback Anthony Brown (knee)
Doubtful: Defensive lineman Morgan Breslin (hip), wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee)
Out: Offensive lineman Zach Banner (hip, season-ending), wide receiver George Farmer (knee, season-ending), wide receiver Steven Mitchell (knee, season-ending), cornerback Devian Shelton (hip, season-ending), defensive lineman Greg Townsend Jr. (knee, season-ending)
Arizona vs. USC Series History
USC leads the all-time series 28-8. The Trojans and Wildcats first played on Dec. 9, 1916 in Phoenix with USC winning 20-7. Arizona won last year’s meeting 39-36 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. Quarterback Matt Scott and running back Ka’deem Carey both rushed for over 100 yards, and the Wildcats forced five turnovers. Arizona was able to overcome quarterback Matt Barkley‘s school-record 493 passing yards and wide receiver Marqise Lee‘s Pac-12 record 345 yards receiving. The teams have split the last four meetings.
Topics: 2013 Football Game Previews, Andrei Heidari, Anthony Brown, Austin Hill, B.J. Denker, Beau Boyster, Cody Ippolito, Cody Kessler, Darreus Rogers, De'von Flournoy, Devian Shelton, Devon Kennard, Drew Riggleman, Ed Orgeron, Follow, George Farmer, George Uko, Greg Townsend Jr., Hank Hobson, Index, Jake Fischer, Jake Smith, Jared Tevis, Jim Young, Justin Davis, Ka'deem Carey, Kris Albarado, Lane Kiffin, Marqise Lee, Matt Barkley, Matt Scott, Morgan Breslin, Rich Rodriguez, Scooby Wright, Shaquille Richardson, Silas Redd, Steven Mitchell, Tra'mayne Bondurant, Zach Banner