Rodriguez speaks highly of USC

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez had plenty of positives to say about USC on Monday. Read on to see his thoughts on Cody Kessler, Marqise Lee, and more.

USC may be in the midst of a down year, but Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez still recognizes the fact that the Trojans have plenty of talent.

It also does not help that USC will likely be coming out with extra motivation due to the recent coaching change.

"I would think we would play the same way no matter what, but I did tell them I think our challenge is going to be more difficult because I think they are going to play extremely fired up, loose and relaxed with a chip on their shoulder and all those kind of things, so I think we are going to get their very best shot," Rodriguez said.

Arizona has to prepare as if Marqise Lee is playing despite his status being questionable. If he does play, the coaching staff is working on defending one of the best players in the country.

"Marqise Lee is such a special talent," Rodriguez said. "You always have to be aware of where he is lined up at, obviously in the receiving game, but also in the return game. We didn't have any answer for him last year; he got open, got involved, and we just couldn't catch him.

"There is no question what type of talent he is. He's one of those rare kinds. Normally you just run your scheme and all that, but with him you have got to run your scheme and you have to know where he is."

The man throwing him the ball, Cody Kessler, has taken some criticism. However, Arizona has been complimentary of his play and Rodriguez was no different on Monday.

"I've been really impressed with him," he said. "He is a competitive guy, makes all his throws, and I don't think he's the tallest guy, but they put him in shotgun at times; he's good in play action.

"He's not had the luxury of some of the guys that have been hurt on the perimeter or under performed a little bit, but they have two NFL tight ends and the receivers that they have are good."

In addition, USC will present a stable of running backs that is among the best in the country.

"Their running backs can play for anybody," Rodriguez said. "Let's face it, USC's going to have good players everywhere. People say that maybe they are not the same, but I see a roster full of four and five-star guys that can play for anybody in the country."

USC's offense will be unpredictable on Thursday, but Rodriguez will not be surprised at anything the Trojans throw at Arizona.

"I don't think it would be unusual," Rodriguez said of a difference in play-calling. "It's really harder for the defensive guys to prepare for. With an open day or semi-open day and a new play caller, we have to expect to see a little bit of everything."

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