USC Football Season Review Leading Up To Rivalry Week
Last Saturday evening, the USC Trojans traveled to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ and they’d go on to lose 16-31. This was a game where my previous article would be a perfect segway into this. I mentioned that if the Trojans weren’t able stop the run or at least keep it to a minimum, it’d be a long night. This was one of the longest nights of the year.
The Veteran And The Young Buck
On the offensive side of things for USC, neither running the ball or throwing it could really get going. Similar to last week, coach Donte Williams rolled out the two quarterback in one game strategy. I’d be all for that if one of the QB’s offered a rushing dynamic to keep the opposing defense honest. However going from Kedon Slovis to a hobbled Jaxson Dart wasn’t the recipe for success.
Slovis went 16 for 28 with 131 yards and an interception, while Dart went 8 for 17 with 89 yards and a rushing touchdown. Not having Drake London plays a huge part in why they haven’t had the same success through the air. Although, the London excuse can only be used so much as this team had little to no rhythm throwing it. It’s obvious the team plays with a little bit more juice or energy with Dart on the field for whatever reason, but, I wonder if it’s hurting both quarterbacks switching them every other drive.
Tahj Washington and Gary Bryant Jr. combined for 15 receptions and 142 yards which, let’s be honest, that’d be a good game for London. It’s going to be a team effort to share the targets but players like Kyle Ford and Malcolm Epps have to step up.
Keaontay Ingram surprisingly only had 14 carries this game for 54 yards, considering the success they have had giving him the rock 20+ times a game. Although, when it’s clear you can’t throw it, the next thing to do is key in on the run which Arizona State’s defensive line and linebackers did pretty well.
Run Defense Continues To Be A Problem
Jayden Daniels being one of the best players on that team, was held in check for most of the game. Daniels went 11 for 20, 145 yards, and 2 interceptions. Thats all fine and dandy but the Trojans weren’t beat through the air.
The Sun Devils leading receiver on Saturday had four receptions for 68 yards. According to NCAA.com, USC’s pass defense is ranked 70th in the nation and their run defense is 85th. Allowing 233 passing yards a game isn’t good, but what is worse is allowing 163 rush yards on average per game.
That rank was prevalent on Saturday night. Former junior college running back Rachaad White out of Kansas City, MO had a game. White had 28 carries for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Jayden Daniels had five carries for 50 yards as well. It’s clear the Trojans can’t stop most teams running the ball, what isn’t clear is if it’s Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando’s scheme. Nevertheless, something needs to change fast if jobs don’t want to be lost.
Where We’re At Heading Into Rivalry Week
It’s no surprise the Trojans will not be in contention for playoffs and they’d be lucky to make a bowl game. I won’t go as far as to say this is a lost season, although this is chance to see what you have with your younger players. With Kedon Slovis leaving after this year, coach Williams should play Dart for a majority if not the rest of the season. Do I think that will happen? No, I think he lets Slovis finish out the year and Dart will take over next season full time. There’s going to be a lot of turnover on this roster come next season with the starting quarterback, running back, and wide receiver all going to the NFL Draft.
***After the writing of the piece, the team announced that Jaxson Dart would get the start against UCLA this week.
Defensively, I’m not convinced Todd Orlando will be here next season or if the scheme should change if the outcome is the same each game. There is not a shortage of talent on this defense it’s about putting them in position to make plays and not allowing players without a certain skill set get exposed. The plays made and energy brought by the youth on this defense will pay dividends in the future it’s about optimizing the talent. Most likely, the entire staff will be overhauled once the new head coach is hired.