Despite ASU’s losing record, USC football will have to do “whatever it takes” to find a way to best the “ultra-impressive” Sun Devils, Clay Helton said Wednesday.
USC football faces a “whatever it takes” moment against ASU this Saturday, head coach Clay Helton said after practice on Wednesday.
The Trojans may be favored over the Sun Devils, who fell to 3-4 last weekend in a match up with Stanford, but Helton has warned against taken ASU lightly.
“When you look at their performance at Washington and at Colorado, I thought it was ultra-impressive,” said Helton, also highlighting a seven-point loss to Stanford which went down to the wire. “Those were fourth quarter battles.”
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ASU’s defense has done a good job of keeping the points down, giving up an average of 21 per game, which has in term kept their offense in games, Helton said. That’s how they’ve managed to have so many close games.
USC has had a share of close games as well. Before the blowout to Utah, the Trojans won three games by three, four and 11 points. Unlike Arizona State, they didn’t emerge from those games smelling particularly like roses.
Still, also unlike ASU, they are still in the race for the Pac-12 South crown. While the Sun Devils have a 1-3 mark in conference and hardly any hope of taking the division title, USC is in a tie at the top with Utah at 3-2. A loss on Saturday would all but end the Trojans’ conference title defense.
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“This is an ultra-important game to our season to be able to keep pace with Utah and Colorado,” Helton said.
Notes and tidbits
- Big day for Biggie… Cornerback Iman Marshall had a standout one-on-one period in the red zone on Wednesday. Twice he intercepted passes while also notching a couple of pass break ups. The Trojans will hope he can carry that vibe into Saturday with a tough matchup against N’Keal Harry looming.
- Rest for Rector… Defensive lineman Christian Rector was affected by fatigue against Utah, but he’s taking steps to avoid similar issues going forward. He talked to special teams coordinator John Baxter about lessening his reps on special teams as a way to get more of a breather and keep him fresher longer in games.
- Freshman growing pains… Asked about JT Daniels’ less-than-stellar completion percentage thus far, Helton wasn’t giving in to panic. “A lot of it is putting a true freshman out there and letting him grow,” he said. Daniels has completed just 56.9 percent of his passes so far, with a 47.1 percent mark in two games in October. The head coach isn’t phased, however. “I really appreciate how hard he works at studying the game and I think as he gets more and more comfortable here with the system, those percentages will go up.”
- Hooking up with Amon-Ra… Helton was also queried about the connection between Daniels and Amon-Ra St. Brown, which has dried up in recent weeks. The Mater Dei teammates didn’t complete a pass together against Utah while St. Brown has totaled 123 yards in four games since lighting up Texas for 167 yards. Still, no concern from the head coach. He said St. Brown did a good job providing an option on third down in Salt Lake City, but the duo just didn’t hook up, calling it an off occasion. “That’s going to happen from time to time.”