USC Offensive Preview

Arizona will play USC on Saturday night. Read on to find out about the Trojan's offense, find out how many interceptions Cody Kessler has thrown this season, and more.

Newly minted in the Top 10, Arizona will get its first test on Saturday night when USC rolls into Tucson.

The Wildcats will likely get the best shot that the Trojans have after a Hail Mary helped Arizona State steal a win from USC last weekend. The loss dropped the Trojans to 3-2 on the season and knocked them from the Top 25.

USC has a new look to the offense this season under new Head Coach Steve Sarkisian. The former Washington skipper runs a spread offense that allows junior quarterback Cody Kessler to open up the field.

The signal caller has been everything that USC has needed so far this season, throwing for 1,380 yards and ten touchdowns through five games. More impressively, Kessler has yet to throw an interception this season, putting his team in a much better position to win games.

His favorite target so far this season has been star receiver Nelson Agholor. The junior has caught 35 balls for 324 yards and three touchdowns this season. Receiving isn't the only weapon, either, as Agholor has returned a punt for a touchdown already this year.

True freshman Juju Smith is the second leading receiver for the Trojans and has already fit right in with the offense, grabbing 18 catches for 207 yards, though he has been kept out of the end zone so far.

Joining in on the passing game has been running back Javorius "Buck" Allen. He has caught 19 passes for 250 yards and a score this season, adding on to his impressive 115 yards per game on the ground. The junior leads the team with four rushing touchdowns.

USC's offense has been efficient so far under Sarkisian, but the key has been winning the turnover battle. The Trojans' only two turnovers this season have come on fumbles, while they have forced two fumbles and snagged seven interceptions.

Despite switching offensive styles with a new coaching staff, the experienced talent has been able to make the transition somewhat seamlessly to average 33 points per game.

While USC has found early success, the Trojans may have to mix things up against the Wildcats. USC has rushed more times than it has passed this season, but Arizona has shown consistency in being able to shut down the opposing run game. If the Trojans are going to score, it may have to be through the air.

Players to Watch:

#15, WR Nelson Agholor: He is, by far, the best receiver on the team this season and it will be interesting to see how Arizona chooses to attack him. If Agholor has a career game and some other players benefit from it, things could get ugly for the defense.

#22, HB Justin Davis: The sophomore had a promising start last season before getting sidelined with an injury. He is back and has spelled Allen at various times throughout the season. Davis could become a factor if the play count creeps towards record numbers.

#2, WR/DB Adoree' Jackson: The rest of the season could be hinging on USC's performance against Arizona. Jackson has seen action on both sides of the ball and it wouldn't surprise many people if Sarkisian pulled out all the stops in this one, getting the freshman into the game on offense.

Keys to the Game:

  • Shut down the run: Arizona has been successful with this so far this season and should continue to do so. Without Allen's support, the offense has struggled to push forward. A one-sided USC offense would be easier to overcome.

  • Maintain composure: Against Oregon, Arizona had some bad penalties, but pulled it together in the second half and cleaned up the game. That needs to carry over into the USC game and future games. As it happened last week, one call could lead to a win or a loss.

  • Force turnovers: The Wildcats need to steal the ball away one way or another. An interception would be ideal, but any chance to flip the field and help out the offense would be perfect for Arizona.

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