- What was the cause or causes of USC's less than impressive run stopping allowing 11.3 yards per rush to LeVante Bellamy? How likely are they to get this fixed by Saturday night in order to stop the speedy Bryce Love?
Missed tackling was a huge issue for the Trojans last weekend. The missed tackles that could have limited the Broncos to maybe a yard or two turned into 5 to 6 yard gains. The Trojans also had alignment issues due to Western Michigan giving them a different look, something the defense wasn’t prepared for. If you noticed the Trojans were in a 2-4-5 dime package, for most of the game due to the formation the Broncos were in. The Trojans got pushed inside and Western Michigan gashed them. Not to mention Cam Smith was absent for the first half. How likely is it that USC fixes the issue remains to be seen at the moment. I’m sure defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will be prepared for Stanford and Bryce Love, however the Trojans still need to execute. As of now I’m skeptical of if the run defense will be fixed against a team who love to run the ball.
2. Were the struggles in the USC passing game a result of Sam Darnold, the wide receivers, or a combination of both?
I would have to say that it was more on the receiving corps than Darnold. Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell were outstanding, but the rest were really questionable and it didn’t help Darnold at all. It’s an adjustment for the two because Darnold is used to throwing to guys like Juju Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers, who can go up and win the jump ball battles. USC don’t have that type of player who will be playing this weekend. Simply put, take away the dropped and tipped passes that led to Darnold’s two interceptions, then the passing game is just fine. The talent is there, the receivers just have to get in sync.
3. Will Ronald Jones and the running backs have to have another stellar game in order to be competitive or will Darnold be able to get the passing game going against Stanford's nationally elite secondary?
I think Darnold and the passing game will get it together. Again drops were a major issue for the Trojans last week and that can be fixed in no time. I believe a mixture of both will have to happen in order for the Trojans to be competitive. We know Ronald Jones II can have a stellar game, especially how he played last week, The passing game will have to do the simple things like catching the ball against the Cardinal. They don’t have to be spectacular against an elite secondary, just have to do the simple things, just like they did against Washington last season.
4. Who is a name for the Trojans that we might not know about but will after Saturday?
Fresman wide receiver Joseph Lewis IV might be a name to look out for this Saturday. He had a pretty good practice with an increased workload on Wednesday, now whether that translates to an increased role on Saturday remains to be seen. He has head coach Clay Helton raving about him and offensive coordinator Tee Martin given him a heavy amount of reps in practice. He could make a name for himself this Saturday if given the opportunity.
5. Since the now legendary 41-point underdog game in 2007 Stanford and USC have played 10 times and the Trojans have lost 7 of those 10 despite historically dominating this rivalry. What do the Trojans need to do in order to turn the tide back in their favor?
I’ll make it short and sweet, Win. USC can recruit and has talent on their side, however in order to turn the tide against the Cardinal, they have to beat the Cardinal and believe that they can beat them. We all know USC can compete with Stanford, now they have to come out on the winning end.
6. USC will win this game if _______?
They limit mistakes and keep the penalties down. Two things that hurt them against Western Michigan, if they keep those down then USC should be fine. Also if they can win the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball then USC will indeed win. That’ll be a major key to this game.
7. What are your biggest concerns about USC headed this game?
The run defense as a whole is a huge concern for me. Stanford loves to run the ball and Bryce Love has tons of speed. If USC can’t contain the Cardinal run game then it will be a long night. The wide receiving corps also concerns me at the moment. Going against an elite secondary. If they can’t haul in catches or help Sam Darnold out then USC will indeed lose.
8. What is your prediction for this game?
This game has a 2015 feel to it. USC has all the talent there and currently are a 6 point favorite, but Stanford tends to play well while they’re under the radar. I think this game will be close and it’ll come down to who can finish in the 4th quarter. I think Stanford will pull away in the end, as USC still has a few concerns that could bite the Trojans against a well disciplined team. I have Stanford winning 38-24.