USC vs. UCLA: Trojans defensive keys to victory


Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

1. Be the aggressor

No. 22 UCLA runs an offense that can give No. 23 USC’s defense fits.

However, similar to Oregon, when opponents are able to disrupt the rhythm of the read-option play, the Bruins struggle.

While it came against a much different attack, the Trojans were able to meet Stanford at the point of attack.  Brett Hundley has shown the tendency to make ill-advised decisions when under pressure.

Arizona State had Hundley under duress for most of the first half and the scoreboard reflected it.  The Sun Devils finished the game with nine sacks.

With three freshmen expected to start on the Bruin offensive line, the Trojan front seven should have the upper hand.

2. Get early stops

In their 2012 game, the Bruins jumped to an early 24-0 lead over USC.

The Trojans eventually woke up and outscored the Bruins 28-14 for the remainder of the game, but the deficit was too much to overcome.

A similar start, and the Trojans could be in trouble.  Fortunately, unlike last season, the defense has been a strength for the Trojans.

3. Limit big plays

The Bruins have seven players who have at least 10 receptions and are averaging over 10 yards per reception.

Wide receivers Shaquelle Evans and Devin Fuller lead the Bruins with 42 and 40 receptions. Evans is averaging 14.4 yards per reception, and Fuller has an average of 11.3 yards.

Against the Trojans last season, Evans had eight receptions for 114 yards, good for an average of 14.3 yards per catch.

Fuller missed the game against the Sun Devils, but is expected to return for the season finale.

The Trojan secondary has had its struggles this season, but they have also managed to render Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks and Colorado receiver Paul Richardson ineffective.

4. Crack the diamond

Since taking his first handoff for the Bruins on Nov. 9 against Arizona, Myles Jack has been glorified for his ability to run the ball.

As a true freshman, Jack had spent the season playing linebacker before switching to double duty.  Against the Sun Devils, Jack played solely on offense.

Jack’s success has come out of a diamond formation with Bruin defensive linemen serving as lead blockers.  The formation worked well against the Wildcats and Washington Huskies, but Arizona State was able to keep it at bay.

The Trojans have the personnel along the defensive line to be able to neutralize that attack.

5. Tackle, tackle, tackle

The Bruins will likely have the Trojan defense on the move, and spread out.

Missed tackles, whether they are in the backfield or past the line of scrimmage, could lead to big drives for the Bruins.

Against the Cardinal, the Trojans were sound with their technique and typically didn’t let players out of their grasp.

The defense regressed a bit against Colorado and that kind of effort will spell trouble.

In a game that was well in hand, missed tackles by the Sun Devils aided the Bruins’ comeback bid.

USC vs. UCLA: Trojans offensive keys to victory