USC offense vs. ASU defense
USC has been relying on Tre Madden and Justin Davis to carry the offensive load, but opposing defenses are keying on them and forcing the Trojans to look elsewhere for offensive punch.
Following suit, despite having a down season thus far, Arizona State defensive lineman Will Sutton figures to play a prominent role in how much success, or lack thereof, the Trojans will have running the ball.
USC had shown the ability to rush the ball against stacked defensive fronts, but suffered setbacks against Utah State. Similarly, USC will need to improve their passing attack and rid themselves of their tendency of dropping passes.
The offense may have an uphill battle, but if they get going, success can be had against a Sun Devil defense that is yielding almost five yards a carry.
USC defense vs. ASU offense
Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly is averaging nearly 340 passing yards, but after completing 74% of his passes against Sacramento State, his completion percentage has dropped to an average of 56% in games against Wisconsin and Stanford.
Marion Grice leads Arizona State’s rushing attack, albeit in modest fashion. Grice leads the Sun Devils with 193 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the season, followed by Deantre Lewis who has rushed for 70 yards.
USC’s strength has come in defending the run, allowing opponents to rush for 2.2 yards per carry.
The Trojans boast the nation’s best red zone defense, the third best rushing defense, are ranked fourth in total defense, and lead the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for loss.
USC’s defensive success in the red zone will be put to the test by Arizona State who has entered the red zone 15 times in 2013 and scored a touchdown on nine occasions.
As detailed in USC’s keys to victory, if the Trojans can turn the Sun Devils one dimensional, frustration could set in.
USC finds itself with a largely inexperienced punter, Kris Albarado, earning Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against Utah State, and their experienced field goal kicker, Andrei Heidari, struggling to get on track.
Arizona State kicker, Zane Gonzalez, has missed three of his field goal attempts, with two of them coming once Arizona State had entered the red zone.
Arizona State punters are averaging 32 yards a punt, with a net of roughly 27 yards.
USC has yet to rectify their issues on kick off and punt returns and the special teams battle could come down to how well each team’s kicker performs.
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