USC Offensive Preview

USC's offense poses numerous issues for Arizona. Read on for a complete look at the Trojan offense and what the Wildcats have to do to stop it.

Arizona faces a huge test this Saturday as it faces a USC squad that has lost just one contest all year, but has had questionable performances n several of its victories. Aside from this past weekend's blowout victory over Colorado, the Trojans have allowed opponents to stay in games.

USC's offense has done enough, however, to keep it in the win column more often than not and UA's suspect defense is going to have to build off of the impressive performance it had against the Washington offense.

Southern California's offensive attack is much more efficient and possesses more weapons than what UW brought to the table.

USC‘s offense is formidable, even if its statistics rank it in the middle of the pack in the conference. The Trojans rank fourth in the Pac-12 in points per game at 34.9 points per game, so they don't have any trouble putting points on the board.

With USC, it all begins with senior quarterback Matt Barkley. Considered to be one of the top pro football prospects in the nation, Barkley has performed well as a senior. He has completed 65.7 percent of his passes while tossing 22 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions.

Barkley's 1,773 passing yards rank him third in the conference and his 8.3 yards per attempt place him second in the Pac-12.

Barkley is a traditional pocket passer who displays a lot of precision when he throws. He will find ways to get his best players involved and he has plenty of talent around him to work with.

His receiving duo is one of the best in the conference. Marqise Lee and Robert Woods provide Barkley with two of the biggest playmakers in the conference and he will go to them often. The pair account for nearly 71 percent of USC's completed passes and just a shade below 70 percent of the team's receiving yards.

Lee leads the Pac-12 in receptions with 60 and receiving yards with 784, while trailing only Woods in touchdown catches (Woods has nine, Lee has eight). The pair has been able to consistently frustrate defenses despite being the only two consistent threats in the Trojans' passing attack. USC's third leading receiver is tight end Xavier Grimble with 13 receptions.

As far as running the ball, the Trojans rank just seventh in the Pac-12 with 1,112 yards as a team, but running back Silas Redd is more than capable of creating problems for Arizona's suspect run defense.

The former Penn State running back has collected 583 yards on the ground and rushed for the Trojans' only six touchdowns.

Even after the improved performance put forth by Arizona's defense this past weekend, it wouldn't be surprising to see Redd have a big performance on Saturday. USC does a good job of mixing it up on offense, so there should be plenty of opportunity for Redd to have a big day on the ground.

USC's offensive line is one of the better unit's Arizona faces all year. The line has helped pave the way for a rushing average of 5.1 yards per carry and does equally impressive against the pass, allowing just nine sacks. With a stout blocking unit to help lead the offense, Arizona's defensive line has its hands full on Saturday.

Players to watch

#7 - QB, Matt Barkley: Barkley is one of the most highly-touted quarterbacks in the country for a reason. His arm, accuracy, and intelligence are likely to be a huge factor in Saturday's affair.

#9 – WR, Marqise Lee: The speedy wide receiver is a big play threat that can create in space and Barkley finds him often. He can beat you underneath as well as over the top and he will be targeted consistently by Barkley.

#2 – WR, Robert Woods: The projected first-round draft pick is another player that should get plenty of opportunities to make plays on Saturday. His familiarity with Barkley combined with the struggles of the Wildcats' secondary should prove to be troublesome for Arizona.

#22 – RB, Silas Redd: Expect to see USC give the ball to Redd often in an attempt to control the tempo. Opposing running backs haven't had too much trouble running the ball on UA's defense and it's hard to imagine that changing this Saturday.

Five Keys

1. Disrupt the backfield: Whether it's pressure on Barkley or hitting Redd in the backfield, the Wildcats must find a way to cause problems for USC behind the line much like it did against Washington.

2. Contain the perimeter: USC's wide receivers are what make the offense go. Outside of those two, there is little that USC brings in the passing game that is overly intimidating. Prevent those two from running rampant and it could hinder the Trojans' attack completely.

3. Stop the run: It can get no simpler. Stop the run and you probably beat the Trojans. If Redd runs wild, it will likely open up the passing game for Barkley and that would spell serious trouble for UA's secondary.

4. No defensive lapses: Arizona must be focused on every play against an offensive attack like USC. The Trojans have the tools to expose UA's defense, even if there is the slightest of shortcomings, so the Wildcats must be aware of their surroundings at all times.

5. Force turnovers and short drives: If USC has the ball for extended periods of time without much resistance, chances are it will put plenty of points on the board.

The Arizona defense has fallen apart at the end of games in the past, simply because they appeared tired, and will have to make sure that doesn't happen against the Trojans.

Wildcat Authority Top Stories