Things to watch out for when the Arizona Wildcats visit USC
Arizona’s quest to end their endless losing streak takes the road to a destination that has not been kind to the Wildcats. Saturday’s venue, the Los Angeles Coliseum, has seen the UA go 1-8 in the past 20 years with the only victory coming in 2009.
Arizona (0-7, 0-4 Pac-12) face a USC team that is 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the league, with the Trojans posting a two-game slippage after defeats against Utah and Notre Dame. They fired their coach, Helton clay, after week 2, and might consider skipping bowling for the third time in four seasons, but depending on DraftKings SportsBook Arizona is a 21-point underdog for this contest.
So it is when you’ve lost 19 in a row.
Here’s what to look out for when Arizona tries to end their 19-game losing streak against the Trojans, which they last beat in 2012.
The Will Plummer / Jamarye Joiner team
Will plummer will get his second straight start as a quarterback, the first time he’s guaranteed to be the guys in back to back games. Coach Jedd Fisch hopes that, among other things, it will lead to a much better performance than in his previous two starts this season.
âYesterday was his best training day he’s had here since I’ve been here,â Fisch said Thursday. âI hope it matches. He was ready to go out and play and play for free. He’s still in first grade, so we’ve got to help him get over that freshman bump and really believe that, hey, man, I can go do it.
Fisch said Plummer continues to improve, moving from a ‘can I do that’ mentality to one where he shows confidence and is about to let it all go.
âWe’re not at the let it rip part yet,â Fisch said. “We’ve got to get to that part where you feel you can actually go there and not just do a play, do the to play. We must continue to build on this. I believe rehearsals are essential there.
But while Plummer is the man, he’s not the alone guy. Wide receiver Jamarye Carpenter will continue to take shots in the backfield, having done so 10 times against Washington. There are no plans to bring Joiner back to the quarterback completely, but Fisch said the additional reps in practice ensure Arizona can “expand their package” on offense.
Distribute the carrys
Fisch said the running backs Drake anderson and Michael wiley, who both missed the game against Washington with injuries, are back for USC. This means fewer keystrokes for freshmen Jean Jalen and Stevie Rocker Jr., who had 152 yards on 27 carries last week, but they will still count in the running game.
âIt will be a 4-man shuttle by then,â Fisch said of the Arizona running game, which is averaging 167.3 yards per game in Pac-12 play after an abysmal performance out of the box. conference (230 yards in three games).
Joiner has 25 yards in four carries against Washington, including Arizona’s lone touchdown, and Plummer has three 10-plus yards this season, so the Wildcats have plenty of options on the field. The same goes for creating running tracks for these ball carriers.
Back Markoff clay played a season-high 14 offensive snaps in the last game after registering just 20 in the first six games. The Washington state graduate transfer says its role continues to grow as Arizona sticks to a ball control attack that tries to eat the clock and minimize errors, though the How USC aligns with defense will also impact its use.
âReally, it kind of depends on what kind of fronts we get, in what they’re playing at our staff groups,â Fisch said. “Do we believe it’s a way to maybe get a nickel on the field and put a linebacker on the field, maybe it’s a way for us to kind of be able to go more downhill rather than a diagram of an area where you bounce it off. Other parts sometimes come with it, you have more doubles teams when you have a fullback because you have an extra blocker. So maybe you have the option of helping a goalie or a cross with some of the back blocks or some of the gap shots that we’re going to execute and maybe also potentially, is there a pass that can. get out? Is there a place where you can know that it’s beneficial to have that full-back in the game. “
Including when Rocker lined up at the back, Fisch said Arizona made about 30 offensive snaps where he used a fullback and two receivers and another 12-15 plays with a full back and two tight ends. This is how the first and most recent games of the season began.
âI would probably like to have a little more over the year and certainly in the future I think there is a place for that,â said Fisch.
Slow USC Crampons
“Guys are everywhere.”
This is how Fisch described the staff at USC, who present 4 and 5 star prospects in virtually every position.
The wide receiver is first and foremost Drake London, who leads the Pac-12 with 79 receptions and 1,003 yards (Arizona’s top two receivers combined for 79 catches and 693 yards). London have five games this season with at least 10 catches, including 31 in the last two games, and they are averaging over 15 targets per game.
London have 19 catches on contested targets, eight more than AU as a team.
“What I can tell you is you have to know where it is at every game,” Fisch said of London. âHe’s going to catch contested balls. So it’s not like one that every take has, it’s just that it’s wide open. So you’re going to have to play through him and play physically with him and then we have to be able to find ways to minimize his impact on the game as best as we can. “
USC is averaging 42 passing attempts and 315.6 passing yards per game, both of the Pac-12’s highs. Arizona have the second-best pass defense in the league, although their two worst performances have come in the last two games.
“They are doing quite well”, defensive coordinator Don brown said of USC’s passing game.
Trojans also have a comeback in Keaontay Ingram, who averages nearly 5.7 yards per carry, but only gets 14 carries per game in their Air Raid program.
Defensively, USC is tied for the second-fewest sacks in the league at 11, but eight of those have come in the past three games, as it also recorded 15 tackles for losses.
âThey have big, big, fast linebackers and defensive linemen,â Fisch said. âTheir secondary is very good, security is active. The securities are a lot of games. It’s a very aggressive defense style, Todd Orlando in the past has always been a guy who brings a ton of pressure. And I would expect that from him, and we have to be prepared to deal with their guys up front, which has always been a huge thing for USC, and their speed.
Prevent big games, and also get some
By design, the Air Raid is an attack designed to go fast and spread the ball everywhere, without always looking for the deep shot. Still, USC is tied for the lead of the Pac-12 with 39 offensive plays from 20 yards or more, including 33 via the pass.
Arizona, despite their overall improvement in defense, continues to give up too many big plays. Washington had four at least 28-yard passes last week, including a pair of 51-yard throws, and for the season, the Wildcats have made 30 plays over 20 yards.
Reducing that number will help Arizona’s cause, but so will their own attacking waves.
Fisch noted that Arizona leads the Pac-12 in offensive plays per game (72.4) but only averages 4.66 yards per game, which is the second-worst in the league. The Wildcats have generated just 15 plays from 20 or more yards and just six over 30, both in the bottom three in the country.
âWe lack any explosiveness,â Fisch said. “We have to be able to stretch the field, we have to be able to make higher plays at 10-yard gains.”
Fisch said the opportunities are there, but that requires maximizing the odds and not worrying about ruining everything.
âWhen a shot is called, shoot, when (there is) a chance to break a tackle, break a tackle,â he said. âYou first have to be ready to seize the opportunity to do so. You have to be prepared to make a mistake and not live in a world of fear. You have to have a lot of things that work together. You have to get the road at the right depth. You must be detailed in your itinerary. You have to go up and do a play. You cannot have a penalty for recalling explosive games. There are a lot of things that go into it. I’ve been on teams where we’ve led college and professional football in explosive games. Now I’ve been on this one where we haven’t. I think a lot of it comes down to being ready to be able and then grabbing the opportunity to do it. “
Play four quarters
The Arizona Wildcats have lost 19 straight games, tied for the 20th longest skid in FBS history. Yet this season, they’ve managed to be âinâ almost every game they’ve played, either leading or within a fourth quarter point in five of seven games.
USC is the exact opposite, at least in terms of making things interesting late in the game.
Matt Zemek Trojans noted in our Q&A with him that the Trojans have yet to play a game this season in which either themselves or their opponent had the ball in the fourth quarter with a score behind with a chance to equalize or take the lead. Their wins were 23, 31 and 23 points and their losses averaged 15.8 points.
Considering Arizona’s play this season, that probably means a laugh in the last period, especially since they’ve been outscored 48-0 in the last four games.
“The last 12 or 13 minutes of games have completely eluded us,” Fisch said Thursday, doubling down on his comment from Monday that the Wildcats “play like 47 minutes, and we just pick the 47 we want to play.”