The duds for USC football vs. Arizona
First-, Second- and Third-Quarter Kedon Slovis
As great as Kedon Slovis was at the end of the game, he just wasn’t himself early in the game. The same wobbly ball that plagued him against ASU was an issue against Arizona. He missed receivers he wouldn’t normally miss and couldn’t get the offense into much of a rhythm. He was just 17-of-28 in the first three quarters.
USC has running backs who can run through trash. USC has wide receivers who can make unbelievable catches. Yet their short-yardage offense is horrendous. USC was 1-of-4 on third-and-short and totaled minus-one yard on three third-down rushes. The numbers say a lot but the eye test was even worse.
Red zone offense
It didn’t help that so many of those short-yardage struggles came in the red zone. USC was an unacceptable 0-for-4 on third-and-goal. The Trojans seem to get into the tight spaces of the red zone and lose all semblance of what makes them good everywhere else on the field.
The Trojan defense gave up 184 yards of rushing to Arizona, minus sack yardage. That’s a 5.1 yard per carry average for the Wildcats. Too many of those yards were the result of missed tackles. The trouble for USC isn’t wrapping up or letting opponents slip through tackles. The problem most of the time relates to the terrible angles USC’s defenders routinely take to the ball carrier. It was an issue against ASU. It was even more of a disaster this week.
USC promised to clean up their discipline problem from Week 1 and they sort of did that. They avoided any turnovers and protected the ball much more reliably. But that doesn’t mean they were improved in other ways. The Trojans had 11 penalties for 110 yards. Two of those penalties disrupted red zone trips. A holding penalty wiped out a sack. So did a facemask penalty.