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1st & 10:
First Take… More so than ever, the USC offense must be responsible for dragging the Trojans to the finish line when it comes to the race for the Pac-12 South title.
The loss of linebackers Cameron Smith and Lamar Dawson to season-ending injuries against Colorado has been well-publicized and analyzed, but there are other reasons USC’s defense needs a little help from their friends.
The Trojan secondary, already thin at safety to begin the season, has been hit by an injury crisis of their own — one less talked about but no less dire.
Leon McQuay III sprained his knee during practice leading into the Cal game and has missed contests against Arizona and Colorado since then. He remains a question mark for the Trojans this week. Considering he serves as a co-starter at strong safety and as Chris Hawkins back up at free safety, his absence should be a concern.
The absence of Marvell Tell II, who is out indefinitely with a broken clavicle, and Matt Lopes, who also missed Colorado due to a foot injury, has forced USC to get creative with their formations on defense.
Su’a Cravens has been pulled back into coverage, while cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Kevon Seymour have been utilized further back in the secondary to cover the gaps.
USC has survived against offenses like Arizona and Colorado under these conditions, but Oregon presents an entirely different level of competition for the defense to contend with.
That means the Trojans must prepare themselves for the prospect of being in a shootout in Autzen. If that is the case, an offense which settles for scoring in the mid-20s will not be enough.
And Ten USC Football News Links…
- Reign Of Troy: We looked at the five things we learned against Colorado, including how USC’s use of tight ends and fullbacks could be the start of something great.
- OC Register: Clay Helton explains the perceived drop off in Adoree’ Jackson’s play this season to an increase in man coverages, which have put the Trojans cornerback at a disadvantage. Michael Lev disagrees, arguing that Jackson’s struggles are a result of his increased role on offense.
- OC Register: We won’t find out the time for USC vs. UCLA until Monday, but there are three possibilities for the kickoff — 12:30, 4:30, 5:00 p.m.
- ESPN: The Trojans may be looking to improve upon the results of the 2013 season under an interim head coach, but Greg Katz is calling on another memory for USC to embody — the 2011 victory over Oregon.
- ESPN: Defensive tackle Keyshon Camp remains a Trojan commit, he says, because he chose the school for networking and academics.
- Bleacher Report: Bryan Fischer doesn’t have high hopes for the Trojans in his latest bowl projections. He’s got the Trojans facing Penn State in the Foster Farm’s Bowl.
- CBS Sports: USC checks in at No. 20 in CBS’ latest rankings of all 128 teams in college football.
- CFB Huddle: While everyone else seems to be freaking out over the Pac-12 likely missing out on the College Football Playoff and offering solutions like nixing the nine-game conference schedule, Kyle Kensing offers a cogent rebuttal citing the inevitability of it all.
- LA Times: Ronald Jones gets all the attention, but Justin Davis has been an invaluable piece for the Trojans, who have used him more and more as Gary Klein details.
- Reign Of Troy: In bonus basketball coverage, the Trojans moved to 2-0 on the season as they hit the 100-point mark for the first time since 2001 on their way to beating Monmouth
Stat of the Day:
USC is 69-3 when scoring 40 points or more since 2002. They have scored 40 points just twice against conference foes this season.