The storylines for this week’s USC-ASU matchup get less interesting week-to-week, but there are still plenty of marquee-matchups between the hashes. This week’s Players to Watch piece leaves out arguably the best draft-prospect between the two teams in USC receiver Drake London, whose season ended last week with a fractured right ankle. However, fans are treated to Daniels v Slovis II (hopefully) after being robbed of the matchup in 2019. So far, that was the only game Jayden Daniels missed in his college career.
Here are the three Trojan players to watch on Saturday night in Tempe.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis/Jaxson Dart
The quarterback situation in SoCal is getting messier by the minute. Arizona boy and former Desert Mountain QB Kedon Slovis is falling short of Heisman-race expectations, and freshman Jaxson Dart (yep, that one) impressed in limited snaps the last few games, including last week’s win over Arizona.
Interim coach Donte Williams has not named a starter for Saturday, which is worth noting because there has not really been a ton of controversy over the starting spot, with the job being Slovis’s to lose up until this week. Dart is the quarterback of the future, but the Trojans seemed to be manipulating Dart’s playing time to keep his redshirt.
Regardless, both are extremely talented with professional upside. If either of these two slingers lead the Trojans to victory, hell will break loose in Tempe. Slovis, previously mentioned as AZ born and raised, and Dart were both recruits that could have been Sun Devils. ASU popularly did not even offer Slovis, but Dart and Herm Edwards had a public relationship during his recruitment. For a coach that’s strongest asset is recruiting, Edwards could not land his quarterback of the future.
Running Back Keaontay Ingram
With London done for the year, the offensive skill-ball will center around Keontay Ingram. The senior running back is averaging over six yards-per-clip on the ground with five touchdowns to his name. A performance of 91 yards or more on the ground will break his single-season record set in his sophomore year (853), and I’d imagine Ingram will hit that milestone on Saturday.
Expect the Trojans to rely on Ingram while they sort out who the next WR1 will be on the outside. London was superb at bailing out his quarterbacks and being near-uncoverable in the secondary. Ingram should have those same expectations in the backfield.
Defensive Lineman Tuli Tuipulotu
Tuipulotu is a menace between the tackles, offering a solution to the explosive ASU run game, while leading the Trojans in sacks at the same time. Two of those sacks came last week against Arizona, so he is hitting his stride right as he faces off against the Sun Devils.
The ASU offensive line was subpar in last week’s loss to Washington State, including three penalties from right tackle Ben Scott. If Rachaad White is not back at full strength, Tuipulotu will likely have a field day defending the run.