X-Factors For USC Trojans Road Matchup Against Washington State

Kedon Slovis celebrates a win at the LA Coliseum.

X-Factors For USC Trojans’ Road Matchup Against Washington State

The USC Trojans are playing in Pullman, Washington on Saturday afternoon, and interim head coach Donte Williams will be making his debut leading this team.

Nothing drastic has been done after Clay Helton’s departure, but a slight change in the culture has improved the mood around the team — and it shined pretty bright at the first open practice under Williams on Tuesday.

There are X-Factors that are always present for USC, but this week’s bunch have a different swag to them going into their first road game of the season.

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Kedon Slovis

Slovis has been hurried quite a lot in the pocket so far, but the offensive line is still doing incredibly better than it did last season. They are helping establish a solid running game, which will improve the passing game. As long as Slovis has time in the pocket to make the throws, USC will come out with a win on Saturday.

Running Back Duo

USC is sitting in the middle of the Pac-12 stat leaders for rushing yards per game, but despite that, they’ve established a starting point to improve from. The duo of Vavae Malepeai and Keaontay Ingram is proving to be good, and with time, they should get even better. Washington State has allowed 162 rushing yards a game so far, so there may be some room to run for the guys.

Receiving Core

USC has been known for their solid wideouts for a while now, and this season is no different. Drake London is Slovis’ favorite receiver — without a doubt — but Tahj Washington is looking like a solid second option for USC. London has surpassed 200 yards so far while Washington has more than 100 yards with both receiving more than 10 passes from Slovis in the two games. Aside from them, there is a list of a dozen others who are more than capable of stepping up and making big times catches, like Kyle Ford, Gary Bryant Jr., and Joseph Manjack IV — or one of the four tight ends in the rotation can make a big-time play.

Pass Rush

It’s time for USC to put their best players on the field to succeed. That means playing away from their normal schemes sometimes using a front seven of four linemen and three linebackers. USC’s normal scheme of 3-3-5 is good against a team like Washington State, but in this case, the best defense is one that gets to the quarterback fast. USC has zero sacks and have forced zero fumbles in two games. Drake Jackson and company need to bring another level of game against Washington State.

Washington State

Jayden de Laura

He’s a QB that isn’t afraid to get out of the pocket and run it. He has 65 rushing yards to add to his 458 passing yards in a little less than two games, technically, after coming off the bench in their first game against Utah State.

Running Game

Max Borghi is back from injury and his backup Deon McIntosh did great last season starting in his place. So far, they have 145 and 66 rushing yards, respectively, in two games sharing snaps. They’ve been slightly below average so far, but it may change despite USC only allowing 104.5 rushing yards a game so far.

Receiving Duo

The senior receiving duo of Calvin Jackson Jr. and Travell Harris is one to look out for — 10-plus receptions and over 100 receiving yards apiece. They are going to find ways to take advantage of the USC secondary who wasn’t very good last week versus Stanford.

Washington State Secondary

The secondary is going to need to continue doing the work they have been — and more. They’ve allowed 268.5 passing yards per game so far, and they’ll be facing a tough USC offense that averages 239.5 passing yards a game.

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USC (1-1) and Washington State (1-1) are fighting to stay alive in their respective standings to get a chance at the Pac-12 Championship game.

The kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. Pacific, and it’ll be televised on FOX.


Kedon Slovis celebrates a win at the LA Coliseum. Via Barstool SC