To get to know the USC Trojans we reached out to our friends at Conquest Chronicles and asked a few questions, Dina Colunga was happy to answer them.
BV: It looks like JT Daniels will most likely play after clearing the concussion protocol, how would you describe Daniels’ play this season?
DC: We all know JT Daniels is supposed to be a senior in high school, that phrase has been used more times than I can count by broadcasters. He’s a very young true freshman playing behind an up and down offensive line and beside a run game that doesn’t do him any favors. Though all things considered I think he’s played well. Besides the errant interceptions which I think stem from hurrying his passes because the pocket is collapsing, he has a calm presence most the time. His deep balls are a thing of beauty and the talent is there, I think he just needs a season to really be the quarterback that he was hyped up to be. Timing with his receivers continues to be an issue, which can be fixed the more games and practices he has under his belt. I would give him a B- so far. Daniels hasn’t lost or won us any games, but he has kept us in some.
Update: At the time the question was asked Daniels had passed the first stage of the concussion protocol, however he still has not been cleared to play for Saturday as of Thursday morning.
BV: The Trojans also lost Porter Gustin for the season last week, what will USC miss with his absence and who can fill into his role?
DC: USC will definitely miss his pass rush ability. Without Gustin USC’s fails to get to the quarterback more often than not. Just the sheer power and explosiveness he brings to the Trojan defense will be missed. When Gustin was on the field, he was flying. So far Palaie Gaoteote has been phenomenal as a true freshman stepping in for both Gustin and senior linebacker Cam Smith. In two games he has 20 tackles and one sack, so USC fans are really excited to see how he progresses through the next few years.
BV: USC doesn’t seem to use a lead back like ASU does with Eno Benjamin, can you tell us how the running back duties are split?
DC: USC currently has a three back system. Senior Aca’Cedric Ware is listed on the roster as our No. 1 guy, then Vavae Malepeai followed by Stephen Carr. Ware gets the majority of the carries, Malepeai is mainly used in goal line or red zone situations, and Carr has surprisingly been nonexistent in the game plan which is odd because he was one of the most hyped players in the offseason and used in athletic promotional pictures.
BV: Sun Devil receiver N’Keal Harry is always a talk because of his talent, what should be USC’s plan is trying to limit Harry’s production on Saturday?
DC: I think USC will look at Harry like the looked at Colorado’s Laviska Shenault. He is too explosive and talented to let him go uncovered and you can’t underestimate him. Hopefully the Trojans will be able to cover him like they did Shenault, who’s numbers were halted significantly by the USC defense. Expect senior cornerback Iman Marshall to line up with Harry as he did with Shenault.
BV: Score prediction and why?
DC: The Coliseum is a difficult place to play for away teams which right now after their performance against Utah, is the Trojans’ biggest advantage. USC has failed to show that they can put teams away or blow teams out, so I think this one will be another close game for the Trojans. I’m thinking something along the lines of a 27-21 win for USC.