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ASU Football: First look at USC

Off to face the Trojans

NCAA Football: Southern California at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Following another tough loss, the month of October has not been friendly to the Sun Devils. Having lost two very close games, that could of gone either way has left them searching for answers.

ASU is now back on the road as the prepare to face the USC Trojans. In the last three meetings, the Trojans have defeated the Sun Devils in dominant fashion putting the days of the Jael Mary far back in the rear view mirror.

The Trojans are currently tied for first place in the Pac-12 South after a loss to Utah last Saturday. They will look to get back sole control of the division with a win against ASU Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.

How does a healthy Daniels perform?

Quarterback has been an achilles heel for the Trojans all season. They entered the season by starting true freshman JT Daniels, who has performed fairly well, he was is in the concussion protocol following the loss to Utah.

He has now been cleared and is expected to play.

A healthy Daniels is a big lift for USC, and will provide a bigger challenge for ASU. A balanced offensive attack can hinder any thoughts of an upset for the Sun Devils.

Three-headed rushing attack

USC may have questions in the passing game, but there’s little doubt that they will be able to run the football.

The Trojans have three running backs who have carried the ball more than 40 times this season for strong results. Senior running back Aca’Cedric Ware and sophomore Stephen Carr are the primary backs, and have rushed for 729 combined yards.

The duo provide a nice change of pace and allows USC to constantly have a fresh runner in the backfield.

When the Trojans are close to the end zone, they turn to redshirt sophomore Vavae Malepeai who has run for seven touchdowns in fewer carries.

Question marks in the defense

Last Thursday against Stanford was the first time ASU’s offense had turned the ball over multiple times.

Quarterback Manny Wilkins is yet to throw an interception on the road this season, and USC has only picked off two passes this season. Expect ASU to try and push the ball down the field against the Trojan secondary.

ASU also will benefit from not having to face USC’s sack leader senior linebacker Porter Gustin, who was lost for the season with a broken ankle. To make matters worse for the Trojans, leading tackler senior linebacker Cameron Smith only played briefly against Utah due to a hamstring injury.

If Smith is unable to participate fully on Saturday, the Sun Devil offense has a chance to put some points on the board at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.