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USC Football

USC Scoop's Season Simulator: Week 1 USC vs. ASU

October 5, 2020

Marc Kulkin

In a perfect world how would you advise Clay Helton, and his staff to simulate a game day walk-thru for a 9:00AM kick off?   What time is curfew and lights out?  When is the wake up call and the team meal?   Those are just dome of the issues the staff will have to figure out.


How will the staff prepare the team for the above scenario in a COVID world?

I’ll leave the details to the professionals just as long as the team is prepared when they run out of the tunnel for the first time this season.  My advice if someone asked would be, start simulating your routine in everyday do a walk-thru.  Do not follow Larry Scott’s lead and wait over a week to figure out and implement a plan.  

While the coaches do the hard work, Josh and I can start game planning for what many are calling the Trojans toughest opponent on their schedule, which also happens to be the first game of the season.  

No not Alabama...Arizona State.

What do we know heading into fall camp?  

We know the Trojan offense in year two under the direction of Graham Harrell should be even more explosive.   The next step for the offense is to be more consistent with 2nd-year starter Kedon Slovis under center and a full “healthy” compliment of running backs and experienced receivers.  We also know the offensive line will be under the microscope trying to replace both starting tackles.

In last year’s meeting the Trojans were leading 28-7 after the first quarter.  The final score was 31-26.  A quick start by the Trojans this year needs to be followed up with a consistent effort for 3 more quarters.

Defensively, the Sun Devils will be coached by Marvin Lewis and Antonio Pierce who will try and use their NFL experience to confuse Kedon Slovis.  How will the Sun Devils scheme to stop both the run & pass game after losing so many pieces from last year’s defense is what the new staff has to figure out?  ASU does return a few solid pieces on defense including Jack Jones at CB, and they’ve recruited well, so it will be up to the ASU coaching staff to have the defense ready to go early otherwise it could be 28-7 again.

On offense, ASU returns (Soph) quarterback Jayden Daniels who will be looking to build off his freshman campaign which saw him throw 17 TD’s against only 2 interceptions, while also completing 62 percent of his passes.  Daniels was forced to miss last year’s game due to injury and also hailing from Southern California, the QB should be extra motivated when the Sun Devils play against USC. 

Similar to the Sun Devil defense, ASU saw their two most productive players on offense move on, so, Daniels, will be asked to be THE guy while the talent around him adjusts.

It’s important the Trojans come out on the right side of the ledger in this game because ASU is experiencing some recruiting momentum under Herm Edwards, so a Trojan victory could derail some of the enthusiasm.  If there is one advantage the Sun Devils might have over the Trojans preparing for the game is they have not had the same cohort practice limitations, and could be further along from a competitive standpoint.

If USC can be prepared and limit the sloppy tackling and penalties which have been an issue for the teams who are playing in the early going, then the talent on the roster should flourish. 

 USC 52

ASU 20


Josh An

Ok, let’s try this again for the third time.

Originally, I thought ASU would be schedule more towards the middle or end of the season.  My reasons was that the two teams are the conference’s best shot in the south division to make a playoff and the conference would try to protect them. In a way, they did by accelerating the process. Around 12PM PST on Nov 7th,  we should know which south division team is in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 title game.

So, let’s talk about ASU. The Sun Devils finished 8-5 last year, and revamped most of their staff in the offseason after finishing 96th in points scored and 35th in points allowed last year. The defense is led by Marvin Lewis and Antonio Pierce, while the offense is led by Zak Hill, who was previously at Boise State.  Under Hill, the 2019 Bronco offense was 38th in total offense (441.5 ypg) and 14th in the country, averaging 36.8 points per game.  Overall, the Sun Devils lose 10 starters from a year ago.

Jayden Daniels, who did not play in last year’s game, comes off a strong freshman campaign where he threw 17 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions.  He will have to shoulder more of the load in Year 2 as the Sun Devils look to replace their leading rusher(Eno Benjamin) and receiver(Brandon Aiyuk) from 2019. Expect Daniels to look for Frank Darby in the matchup next month. With Hill at the helm, I expect the Sun Devil offense to push the ball down the field more next season. The offensive line will be a question, as ASU has to replace four starters/contributors from a year ago.

Defensively, the Devils return much of their core, led by Jack Jones, Merlin Robertson, and Tyler Johnson. While USC had no problem torching this unit last year, USC will have to do a better job this year of continuing to punish this defense as the year goes on. 

Overall, I think USC already edges ASU in terms of all-around talent. And with the Sun Devils still trying to implement a new offense AND defense for a 9AM game on the road, I think this game favors USC. Like last year, I expect Slovis and co. to challenge the ASU secondary and for Todd Orlando’s defense to come out aggressively against Jayden Daniels. I’m picking USC to win this game 35-24. 

Tags: Football
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