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Steve Sarkisian faces familiar foe in Washington after bouncing back big over Arizona State.


 

Things nearly looked very grim for the USC Trojans after dropping a perceived lock game vs. the Stanford Cardinal.

From a fan perspective, jobs were on the line coming into the Arizona State game, and the Trojans bounced back with a 28-point victory.

The Trojans now focus their attention on the 2-2 Washington Huskies, a familiar foe for Steve Sarkisian, former head coach of Washington, as well as many others on the USC coaching staff.

Despite the underlying story line for the Trojans, it’s virtually been a universal reaction that this game is just “business as usual.” Here are the keys to victory for the Trojans vs. the Huskies.

Kevin Seymour

After missing the last two weeks with a knee injury, it is important that cornerback Kevin Seymour imposes his will in the secondary. Washington wide receiver Jaydon Mickens, a former USC commit, will get his chances early and often to test Seymour’s knee.

Kevin Seymour will have to show he’s fully healthy to not only contribute to the secondary (who has only given up 3 passing touchdowns this season), but to keep pressure from Inman Marshall having to take his spot and pick up the slack.

Run Defense

USC is giving up 164 yards rushing and that is indicative of a shaky, and recently oft injured, defensive line. Nose tackle Antwaun Woods sat out of the Arizona State game with a shoulder injury, but returns for tonight’s game vs. Washington.

Woods’ replacement, Claude Pelon, who started last week vs. the Sun Devils, is a game-time decision after suffering a high ankle sprain in Monday’s practice.

Despite facing a handful of underclassman on the Washington offensive line as well as their running back, the Trojans must make it a point of emphasis to establish momentum and progress as a unit.

There’s been a growing concern over the Trojans defensive line and a few sacks and disallowing over 150 yards rushing can definitely put that concern to bed.

Running game

USC’s offense leads the conference in scoring, passing efficiency, passing touchdowns and completion percentage. Steve Sarkisian has been running off roughly about 66 plays a game, but aspires to reach 80 plays a game.

This is where it would be nice to see the running game raise the bar for Sarkisian’s goal. At halftime vs. Arizona St., the Trojans had 11 rushing yards between THREE top-level running backs…..and were up 35 POINTS.

Justin Davis, Tre Madden, and Ronald Jones II all are explosive play makers who can break a long run at a drop of a hat. USC’s leading rusher, Ronald Jones II brings a strong dynamic to the 3-headed monster for the Trojans.

Madden and Davis need their touches more often however perhaps with more no-huddle offense can completely decimate the Huskies. Although the goal isn’t likely to just run 80 plays if it’s not needed, however creating more success and touches for the SC running backs builds confidence as well as momentum for the Trojans success as an offense.

Analysis

There’s no looking ahead for the Trojans because Washington is no push-over, however USC needs a big win to continue shifting momentum.

The next 3 weeks ahead the Trojans have road games vs. Notre Dame and Cal, with a home stand vs. top 10 ranked Utah in between. Fine tuning tonight of the defensive line, secondary, and running back units is a necessary confidence builder that USC will need going forward into the meat of the schedule.

A big win tonight for USC can build focus on larger tasks at hand for the Trojans, because success vs. those larger tasks can catapult USC right back into the playoff picture.

Prediction: USC 52, Washington 17

 

 

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Ayron Beavers