Who Matters For USC Trojans Week 2 Matchup Against Stanford

The USC Trojans Host The San Jose State Spartans At The Coliseum. Photo Credit: Ahmad Akkaoui | LAFB Network
The USC Trojans Host The San Jose State Spartans At The Coliseum. Photo Credit: Ahmad Akkaoui | LAFB Network

USC Trojans football has faced the Stanford Cardinal for over 100 years and didn’t play them last season for the first time in over 70 years.

This matchup is always highly anticipated, and it should be a great game to showcase teams playing their first Pac-12 game of the season.

These are some of the things that will matter for each team.

USC Trojans

Running Game

The Trojans have to take advantage of the Stanford defense that allowed 200 rushing yards in their first game of the season last week. Running backs Vavae Malepeai and Keaontay Ingram combined for 151 yards last week, and they should be able to carry it over — or improve on it and rush for more. Quarterback Kedon Slovis said after their season opener that improving the running game makes things easier for him. When the running game doesn’t work, USC has to rely heavily on Slovis’ arm to get them down the field. 

Tight Ends

The Trojans’ tight ends were used a lot in their season opener — and it was more than just for the passing game. Freshman Michael Trigg was the only one that wasn’t targeted for a pass, but he was being used in different capacities on the field against San Jose State. If the Trojans want to succeed, they have to use all of their TEs in some way to keep the defense guessing. 

Defensive Secondary

The Trojans’ defensive backs position group is incredibly deep, and they may be the most important on the field this season. The cornerbacks and safeties will be the last line of defense if Stanford’s running game starts clicking like it should. With an inexperienced quarterback starting for Stanford, they’ll be important in getting the stops needed for USC to win the tough game.

Defensive Pass Rush

After saying the DB position group is deep, it’s hard to say the same about the defensive line position group without sounding redundant — but the DL group is solid as well. If the pass rush for USC can get to the QB and hurry him, Stanford won’t be able to get down the field as easily as they want to. In the running game, the defensive line and linebackers will be essential in getting to the running backs and getting them down close to the line of scrimmage. If all goes well, the Trojans’ defense will be able to get lots of stops.

The Trojans may be without Nick Figueroa after he suffered a shoulder injury last game, but Figueroa will probably try his best to suit up. It looks like everyone else on the team is healthy enough to play on Saturday, so it should be a good one.

Stanford Cardinal

QB In First Career Start

Corona native QB Tanner McKee is getting his first ever start against the Trojans on Saturday night, and in order for USC to solidify a win, they have to make McKee uncomfortable. McKee and QB Jack West split the responsibility in their season opener with McKee finishing the game with 118 yards passing on 18 attempts and a touchdown while West threw less than 100 yards and had two picks. McKee seems to have the reigns and will look to come out strong right away.

Running Game

Stanford’s running game didn’t show up against Kansas State last week, finishing the game with 46 positive yards on the ground on 15 attempts. That wasn’t their game to say the least, especially while junior RB Austin Jones is getting the ball a lot. Jones finished last season with 550 yards in their 6 games — three of which he had over 100 yards and two others just short of that. 


Stanford’s defense didn’t do bad — Kansas State was just better. The defense forced an interception, had three sacks, and had six tackles for a loss. If the Cardinal defense can limit the running game and get to Slovis, the Trojans will be forced to punt it away — much like in their game against San Jose State.

According to ESPN, Stanford inside linebacker Jacob Mangum-Farrar will be making his return to the field after missing all of last season and only playing two games in 2019.

The Trojans and Cardinal are facing off at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. and it will be televised on FOX.

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