Perhaps the biggest challenge for USC last week against Minnesota was the unknown, the fact that the Gophers really had set no precedents on offense other than what coach Jerry Kill had done in his previous stop at Northern Illinois.
As multiple players pointed out after the game, Kill's old offense didn't turn out to be the same as his new offense, and Minnesota was able to confuse USC late in the game with some new plays and variations that the Trojans hadn't seen on tape
This week against Utah will present a different challenge altogether. The Utes' offensive playcaller is none other than Norm Chow, who obviously has quite the history at USC and with the Trojans' head coach, Lane Kiffin. For that reason, it's fairly clear that Kiffin and Monte Kiffin and the Trojans will know exactly what to expect with Chow's offense.
But will they know how to stop it? That's an entirely different question.
"The preparation for our defense is a lot easier," Kiffin said after Thursday's practice. "But t doesn't mean we're going to be successful.
"It just means it's easier because we're used to playing against it."
It's like most other things in life -- it's easier to fight against something you're familiar with. Nobody -- or very few people -- would prefer to face a complete unknown than a known quantity, even if the quantity is certified as something to be reckoned with. And that's what USC will face in two days' time, an offense that was already productive prior to adding Norm Chow this offseason and now stands to pattern itself off of his past successful squads.
No, the Utes didn't look that great in their opener against Montana State last week, winning just 27-10 at home and out-gaining the Bobcats by only 34 total yards. But, as Kiffin intimated Thursday, the plays and packages seen in that game probably won't be all that similar to what USC sees Saturday.
Chow can be a little sneaky.
"It is easier from a coach's standpoint, not having as many unknowns," Kiffin said. "Then again, too, there's some thought that they've had all offseason to practice different stuff and didn't feel they needed to show it in the opener.