While the Trojans did not exactly impress last Saturday night against Alabama, this is not a team that should be underestimated. That said, Stanford does have the tools to beat this team.
Alijah Holder at cornerback was fortunate enough to avoid getting flagged for pass interference twice. The particularly egregious offense was against Kansas States’ bigger receiver, Byron Pringle, in the end zone. Stanford safety Zach Hoffpauir had some trouble as well, when coming down in man coverage over the slot receiver he would look lost, which resulted in a few plays down the field for Kansas State. USC is going to try and set up JuJu Smith in one on one situations with these two, it will be up to them to elevate their game when that happens. If they can play in the spot light then the USC passing attack is in for a long night as the other options of attack are Quentin Meeks and Justin Reid who were both solid all night against Kansas State.
One of the big advantages for Stanford is their pass rush, which generated eight sacks and eight tackles for loss in the opener. Solomon Thomas and Harrison Phillips anchored the line but the real key came from the depth at linebacker. Continually rotating guys in and having fresh legs coming after the opposing quarterback will make all of the difference against USC.
As with most games, the other huge plus in Stanford’s corner is having such a diverse weapon in Christian McCaffrey. His ability to make plays in so many areas and getting a large volume of touches is key to wearing down the USC defense. Michael Rector will most likely have Adoree Jackson on him for the night which means the spotlight will be on McCaffrey to make plays for this offense. Also look for McCaffrey to motion out into the slot to give a three receiver look to one side as well. Not only will this put a linebacker on him but it could also give tight ends like Greg Taboada opportunities underneath the outside routes.
My last factor going into the game is that, hopefully, Bryce Love will be able to play after sitting out the Kansas State game. This would give the Cardinal two dynamic, pass catching backs to attack the USC defense.
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