LOS ANGELES -- WeAreSC's panel of experts discuss USC's upcoming game against Arizona, and what the Trojans needs to do to win that game, in this week's version of the Thursday Roundtable:
What are the offensive keys for USC on Saturday against Arizona?
Garry Paskwietz: I think it will be important for the Trojans to commit to the running game. The Wildcats' rush defense is ranked No. 114 in the nation and last in the Pac-12 so that will be a benefit to USC in terms of getting Marc Tyler and the ground attack going early. USC wants to be a play-action team, and that works best after you have already shown that you're willing to run the ball when needed.
Steve Bisheff: The key for the offense is to maintain the momentum of the resurging running game that surfaced in the second half at Arizona State. Suddenly, the holes were there, and Marc Tyler was rummaging through them like one of those famous Trojan tailbacks of other years. Establish that kind of flow this week, and the rest of the season for that matter, and everything else gets easier. Matt Barkley can go to more play-action passes and freeze some of the linebackers and safeties, allowing Robert Woods and Marqise Lee to run more freely through the secondary. Even more important, a good running game swallows up time on the clock, keeping good opposing quarterbacks like Nick Foles off the field while allowing the USC defense to stay fresh.
Greg Katz: The biggest key on offense will be to take advantage of the questionable Arizona secondary, and in a hurry, while avoiding costly interceptions. Barkley needs to be on top of his game Saturday because this contest could turn out to be a quarterback shootout with Arizona's Nick Foles, a major NFL prospect.
Kyle Williams: So far this season the USC offense is averaging a little more than 25 points and two turnovers a game. Take away the nine turnovers this season and the scoring average would be higher, thus eliminating the close games and possibly last week's loss. One of the biggest keys on offense this week will be taking care of the football. The Trojans can not afford to turn over the ball and give Arizona quarterback Nick Foles more opportunities to make plays.
What are the defensive keys for USC on Saturday against Arizona?
Paskwietz: The secondary needs to play better. The Wildcats have a lot of options at receiver, and Nick Foles is adept at spreading the ball around. Even if the Trojans are able to get more pressure, Foles is a veteran quarterback and he's not going to panic. This is a guy who will find a way to make his throws. He's also plenty accurate, no picks this year, so that's yet another reason the USC defensive backs will have to cover well.
Bisheff: The defensive key is, obviously, to slow down Foles, who has completed 70 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception this season. He is clearly the finest passing quarterback the Trojans have faced up to now, and Monte Kiffin will have to throw every kind of blitz he can think of at him, or this could turn out to be another one of those dangerous Pac-12 shootouts.
Katz: The biggest key on defense will be to mount an aggressive pass rush on Foles. If he gets time like ASU's Brock Osweiler did last Saturday, Nick could eat up the Trojans' secondary, especially with prolific wide receiver Juron Criner. Stoops calls Foles one of the best players in the country, and if the Trojans don't correct their pass rush and get to Foles, things could get mighty dicey in the Coliseum.
Williams: A lot of people are talking about the strength of Arizona's passing game against USC's struggling secondary. The biggest key on defense this week will be the production of the Trojans' front four. The D-line will need to create pressure on Foles, which will take the pressure off their secondary. The less that USC has to play man on the outside and the more it take away the passing game, the more Arizona will be forced to have to go to its less-than-stellar running game.