The USC Trojans are coming off a brutal 56-24 loss to Oregon last week as they head to Tempe to face the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Trojans are 5-4, while the Sun Devils are 5-3 after their second bye week of the season.
Last season, the Sun Devils took the field at the Coliseum and beat the Trojans 38-35.
Head coach Clay Helton’s job is on the line as the Trojans finish out their final games of the season and it has been from the beginning of the 2019-20 year. However, a win in Tempe this weekend will make the Trojans bowl eligible, something they missed out on last year.
Let’s take a look at the Trojans:
A young quarterback with strong talent
The Trojans had to put their faith in another young quarterback after sophomore J.T. Daniels suffered a torn ACL in an early game against Fresno State.
They turned to Kedon Slovis. Slovis, originally from Scottsdale, enrolled at USC in the spring of 2019 after graduating a semester early from high school.
Heading into the 10th week of the season, Slovis has thrown over 1,800 passing yards along with 16 touchdowns. Despite his success to get the ball in the end zone, he also has thrown eight touchdowns.
This will be something Arizona State needs to capitalize on, even though the defense only has three interceptions on the season.
Troy’s offense also has some other powerful weapons that the Sun Devil defense needs to be aware of. They have the trio of Michael Pittman Jr., Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Between the three of them, they have a combined 163 receptions and 17 touchdowns.
Special Teams and Defensive struggles
In their game against Oregon, the Trojans allowed a 100-yard kickoff return from Oregon’s Mykael Wright in the last 20 seconds of the second quarter.
They are one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 in average yards allowed per kickoff return. ASU wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has over 230 yards in kickoff returns so far this season. It will be important for Aiyuk to recognize this and give the Sun Devil some scoring opportunities.
Not only did they struggle with kick returns last week, the Trojans gave up 28 points in the second half after trailing 28-17 at halftime. Their opponents are averaging 28.33 points per game, while Arizona State is only averaging 23 points per game.
The Sun Devils put up 32 points against the Bruins, while only accumulating three against the Utes in the previous week.
Similar to Arizona State, this Trojan defense is young. They have nine freshman and sophomore starters. However due to a few injuries here and there, this young defense has struggled to contain the run game, allowing an average of 184 yards-per-game.