USC vs. Fresno State: Get To Know The Trojans
Bulldogs are taking on the Bruins
New look USC
The Freno State Bulldogs are taking on their California brethren in the USC Trojans in Los Angeles. A lot has changed for the Trojans with a new head coach in Lincoln Riley as do the Bulldogs. who have an old, new coach with Jeff Tedford back in the Central Valley.
To get to know this USC team we reached out to Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire to get to know this Trojans team.
- It’s still early but have expectations changed from the preseason until now for USC through two games?
No, they haven’t. If USC can get into October 4-0, meaning the Trojans will have won at Oregon State, then you’ll see expectations rise. For now, everyone knows this defense isn’t very good and that the margins are still small for this team. The defense has to be tolerably good – not great, not even above-average, but something more than terrible – in the early part of the season before it develops a better sense of how to play under Alex Grinch. The defense should be better in November; it’s a matter of surviving the early months of the season and avoiding trap games such as Fresno State and Oregon State.
- What is the biggest concern for this USC team?
Defensive line. Run defense has been particularly bad. The pass rush isn’t particularly good, though when USC has a large second-half lead, it is easier to go after the quarterback. Obviously, if a game is close in the second half and opponents can still run the ball (something we haven’t seen yet this year), the defense will face a much tougher challenge. Opponents can win battles up front and give this defense headaches.
- Fresno State has a really good offense led by QB Jake Haener, how will the USC defense respond in what will be their toughest test to date?
I don’t think USC will respond well to Haener. I also think USC won’t force four turnovers, which it has done in each of its first two games. The turnover equation is unsustainable. Stanford failed to score on multiple drives inside the USC 5-yard line. Fresno State should score at least 35 points against USC.
- What is an area where Fresno State could have some success against USC?
Haener working the intermediate area of the field should be very productive for Fresno State. USC’s secondary hasn’t been beaten over the top, but Stanford completed a number of intermediate passes and drew pass-interference penalties on 20-yard throws. If the Bulldogs establish the run, they can take some shots down the field on play action. There’s a lot they can do against a USC defense which is still learning how to play.
USC’s offensive line is really good. Andrew Vorhees, Brett Neilon, Justin Dedich, and Jonah Monheim are all doing a great job. They’re road-grading in the run game and are giving Caleb Williams a very clean pocket. The OL room at USC this year is thin, but if these starters stay healthy, the offense is going to roll.
- How do you see this game playing out?
There will be plenty of points. Fresno State will score 38 … and lose by double-digits. 52-38, Trojans.