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USC Offensive Preview

USC has plenty of offensive talent. Read on for a complete look at what Arizona is up against Saturday.

Although USC is only averaging 25 points per game this season, the Trojans have plenty of talent on that side of the ball.

USC started with Max Browne at quarterback and made a quick change to redshirt freshman Sam Darnold, who has played relatively well.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound signal caller has thrown for eight touchdowns and two interceptions while completing about 68 percent of his passes.

He has a strong arm and the ability to throw into tight windows while also spreading the ball around well.

In addition, Darold has nice running ability. He may not be a Khalil Tate or Brandon Dawkins type of runner, but Darold can certainly extend plays with his legs and has to be respected.

USC will be without Justin Davis this weekend and he has clearly been the Trojans’ best runner, having gone for 496 yards on only 74 carries.

Now, the running responsibilities will be split between a couple of solid backs. Ronald Jones is likely to get the bulk of the carries and has run 46 times for 225 yards and one touchdown.

In terms of pure ability, Jones may actually be the best of the bunch, but he has yet to reach his full potential.

To go with Jones, 6-foot-0, 195-pound sophomore Aca'cedric Ware will get carries. He has 38 attempts for 137 yards with one touchdown.

Neither back has the production of Jones, but the Trojans will likely look to establish the run early and it won’t be an easy task for Arizona.

Darnold’s real weapons on Saturday will be at wide receiver. Senior Darreus Rogers will likely be matched up with Jace Whittaker.

Rogers has 23 catches for 315 yards but has yet to score. He’s a powerful receiver and could be a difficult matchup for a less mature Whittaker.

On the other side is 6-foot-2, 220-pound Juju Smith-Schuster. He leads the Trojans with 31 catches for 433 yards and five touchdowns.

If Arizona is going to have any type of chance at stopping Smith-Schuster, Dane Cruikshank is going to have to be physical with him.

Smith-Schuster has struggled a bit this season with more physical secondaries and Arizona will try to frustrate him throughout the day.

Junior Steven Mitchell, Jr. is another receiver that has a ton of potential, but has struggled at times to reach it.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound receiver has 23 catches for 207 yards and a score. Sophomore Deontay Burnett is right there with him, having accumulated 22 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown.

The Trojans have been finding the tight end more as of late and that will likely be a goal on Saturday as well.

Sophomore Tyler Petite has nine catches on the season for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Darnold did a nice job of hitting him last game and Petite is a difficult matchup for the Wildcats.

Players to Watch

#73, RT Zach Banner: We don’t usually put linemen on here, but there’s a good chance Banner will be playing on Saturday after missing a few games with an injury. He struggled before being injured and becomes a player to watch because of it. 

#1, WR Darreus Rogers: Smith-Schuster is going to get the attention, but Rogers poses plenty of problems himself. Whittaker is overmatched here, but if Arizona is going to win it needs to contain Rogers. 

Keys to the Game

1. Get off the field: USC’s offense is too talented to keep giving chances. Arizona needs to get three and outs, which it has struggled to do this season.

2. Make USC one-dimensional: The Trojans are at their best when the offense is balanced. Arizona needs to either take the run or pass away in order to maximize its possibility for success.

3. Contain the edge: Arizona has struggled at times to contain the edge and with Darnold’s running ability, it needs to make sure it is doing that effectively Saturday.


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