Getting To Know The Trojans Week 9 Opponent: Arizona Wildcats
Saturday evening, the USC Trojans host the Arizona Wildcats at the Coliseum. The Wildcats come into this week 0-7 and the Trojans 3-4. This will be the 44th time these two teams meet and currently, USC leads the series 35-8.
Vegas has USC as 21.5 point favorites. So it’s clear that the Trojans should absolutely win this game but if we’ve learned anything these past two weeks, it’s that you should never get comfortable.
2020 Season In Review
You’d think that the way Arizona is playing now is bad and it couldn’t have been worse last year, think again. As many of you know last year was a shortened season and many teams only played around five to six games. Last year head coach Kevin Sumlin led the Wildcats to a 0-5 season in which they did not score over 27 points in any of their contests.
They started off the year with a 70-7 loss to Arizona State. They drop the next four games until they reach USC at the last game of the season and lost just by four points 30-34. So whatever the 2021 season had in store for them it for sure couldn’t repeat itself…right!?!
Key Additions And Departures
Some notable additions this year are on both sides of the ball this year. Former UNLV Rebel tight end Alex Lines is now starting and has a couple of receptions. Former Washington State fullback Clay Markoff is now the starter at Arizona. As for the defensive additions, there are plenty of impact starters.
To start it off you have Mo Diallo who is a transfer from Central Michigan. Diallo has three sacks on the season which leads the team and has 26 tackles on the year. Kenny Herbert, who transferred from Vanderbilt and has a sack and an interception, and former Bowling Green prospect, Jerry Roberts, are starting at both linebacker positions.
Perhaps where they made the most improvements as opposed to last year would be on the back end of the defense. Former Notre Dame cornerback Isaiah Rutherford is the biggest name on this defense along with Gunner Maldanaldo who’s a freshman safety that transferred from Northwestern.
As far as departures go they lost former wide receiver, Gary Brightwell, to the draft who was selected in the sixth round by the New York Giants, who switched him to running back. They also lost defensive tackle Roy Lopez III who was selected by the Houston Texans in the sixth round as well.
They only lost a few transfers from last year and this year. One of the more notable movements would be offensive lineman Edgar Burrola. With an already weak offensive line unit currently starting it doesn’t help to lose depth. Other than losing a few linemen, no impact players left the program.
The 2021 season left off exactly where the 2020 season ended. They got more athletic and experienced on the defensive side but can’t catch a break at all. The Wildcats dropped the first two games to two top 25 ranked teams in BYU and San Diego State. Perhaps where most people hit the panic button is when they were defeated by Northern Arizona. The FCS Lumberjacks ended a 14 game losing streak that started back in 1932.
The Wildcats dropped the next four games, all coming from Pac 12 opponents. The most recent game they had played was against Washington. Washington, dealing with their own issues, kept Arizona in this game and the Wildcats had a few opportunities to win that game. Unfortunately, they couldn’t close and ended up losing 21-16.
Arizona has bounced around from three different quarterbacks this year. The three are Washington State transfer Gunner Cruz, freshman Will Plummer, and Sophomore Jordan McCloud. Neither of these players has solidified themselves as the starter for the team. Cruz started the year but they went to Plummer for week two and three, while going to McCloud for weeks 4 and 5. Cruz would get another chance but Plummer took over again during last week’s game.
This team has a running back by committee with players who have not stepped up to delegate a starter. It’s clear the offense runs through junior receiver Stanley Berryhill III who has 54 receptions this year with 465 yards and a touchdown.
The expectations for the rest of the season for the Wildcats are not much and for good reason. Hopefully, these players remain healthy so next year they can restart and fix the issues in this program.
History Against The Trojans
As stated earlier, this will be the 44th meeting between these teams. Trojans lead it 35-8. The last game these 2 teams played was a USC win 34-30 last November. The last time Arizona beat the Trojans was in December 2012 where Arizona won 39-36. This has to be a win for coach Donte Williams if he wants to be taken seriously as a head coach. Being winless, Arizona will throw all their chips in and do everything they can to win this game.