As the Sun Devils make the trip west across the I-10 to Los Angeles, they must put one of the more embarrassing losses in the recent history of the program behind them. No doubt last week's debacle will be a tough one to erase from their minds, but it must be done if the maroon and gold are going to find any success Saturday.
As a freshman, he was an All-American, making 52 tackles and recording four interceptions at strong safety. However it's Cravens' position on the field that will be more interesting to watch. Cravens played strong safety almost exclusively last season, now USC head coach Steve Sarkisian is experimenting with him at outside linebacker. He had six tackles and an interception return for a touchdown last week against Oregon State. He was a little slower at safety which makes him a great linebacker in coverage because he's usually a step faster now. If Cravens had success against a senior quarterback in Sean Mannion, he might easily prey upon Mike Bercovici.
He only had nine rushes for 30 yards against UCLA, but that was also a casualty of the second half and the Sun Devils passing almost exclusively to try and get back in the game. Foster will need to get back into the swing of things Saturday and he could be relied on early and often. USC is ranked No. 9 in the country in pass defense, giving up only 155 yards per game through the air so far this season. They also haven't allowed a passing touchdown. All of this is not good news for Bercovici, who lacks experience. The offensive game plan might include a lot of ground and pound, which offers Foster the perfect opportunity to get his groove back and showcase his skills.
Carlos Mendoza / DJ Calhoun
Mendoza saw some snaps at Devilbacker to begin fall camp, then moved over to WILL linebacker before injuring his leg at Camp Tontozona, which has kept him from playing this season. Mendoza may get his first shot Saturday, as he was taking first team reps on Tuesday at practice ahead of DJ Calhoun. There is a chance Mendoza gets his chance to show his prowess and it will be interesting to see if he can hold his own there ahead of Calhoun.
Brown completely underwhelmed in his first start, getting beat in coverage numerous times. He needs to bounce back soon and regain his confidence because it doesn't get any easier against USC. Nelson Aghalor has been a consistent threat with 26 catches for 239 yards and three touchdowns this season. While 100 percent ball security is what Todd Graham preaches, the big plays were the true nail in the coffin against UCLA, it starts with Brown and the rest of the secondary making marked improvements to make sure it doesn't happen again. Cody Kessler has a 72 percent completion percentage so the Sun Devils will have their hands full trying to make plays against a quarterback who makes good decisions with the ball and clearly has good chemistry with his wide receivers.