USC vs Arizona: Recap And Reactions
Saturday evening the USC Trojans hosted the Arizona Wildcats in a game where USC dominated a majority of the game. One of the biggest headlines for that game ironically is not how either team played it’s who got injured. Star wide receiver and projected first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft Drake London suffered a broken ankle which will cut his outstanding season short.
Rotating Quarterbacks And A Bell Cow Running back
This was a game where many fans including me thought this was an opportunity to throw in Jaxon Dart. He suffered a meniscus injury against Washington State that sidelined him for 4 weeks. He made great progress In his recovery and coach Donte Williams decided to give him a few drives.
It seemed like he played a little more than anticipated because Kedon Slovis fell into a bit of a rut. Both quarterbacks threw around 20 times, Slovis had 204 and Dart had 109 yards and both had two touchdowns apiece.
Keaontay Ingram had a good game last week against Notre Dame with 24 carries for 138. This week without a doubt Keaontay showed he’s one of the best running backs in the Pac 12. The Texas product had 27 carries for 204 yards. Going from each running back getting around 15 carries to Ingram getting 25+ shows the confidence this coaching staff has in him.
While Drake London was on pace for another amazing game with nine receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns, he had suffered a broken ankle on his second touchdown catch. There’s no question he’s going to be drafted in the NFL Draft this year, he’ll most likely be fully recovered towards the end of December. It’s where he’ll be taken now that these teams have to look at his injury history.
Gary Bryant Jr. had a really good game this week. Bryant had three receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns. With London out for the season, it’s on Bryant Jr. and the rest of the receiver room to divide those targets that London would be getting.
Trojan Defense Played Well For The First Half
For a majority of the game, the defense for USC played really well. Aside from that deep 73-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, no big plays were given up. The Trojans gave up a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and did not score until the fourth quarter.
You can tell as USC was up 35-14 the Trojans took their foot off the gas a little bit and ended up letting the Wildcats get back into the game. At the start of the fourth quarter, it was 38-31 following a pick-six thrown by Slovis and a quarterback run by Will Plummer.
USC would end up holding on to the lead and get the win 41-34. Overall the rush defense was immensely better this week, against a winless team, yes, but the lead rusher on Arizona only had 35 yards. That in and of itself is a win especially coming off last week against Notre Dame’s rushing attack.
Kana’i Mauga led the team in tackles with ten, as he’s done plenty of times before. Drake Jackson, Jacob Lichtenstein, Tuli Tuipolotu, and even junior safety Chase Williams all had at least one sack. So pressure was absolutely there for this week.
As for the pass defense, it was not as successful a day as they would have liked, but, no touchdowns were allowed through the air. However, they allowed 339 yards passing from a team that has struggled to throw the ball at an effective rate all year. No interceptions were made and it looks like the quick passing game is still an issue this defense has, either from scheme or not having the athletes in certain positions. Overall it was a pedestrian day for that group.
This game against Arizona showed that not all is lost for this struggling USC team. The offense was clicking and converting early on, while the defense certainly bent but didn’t break. They’ll have to bring some of this momentum against a better Arizona State Sun Devil squad.