2020 Game 2: USC vs. Arizona
No. 20 USC Trojans (1-0) at Arizona Wildcats (0-0)
Arizona Stadium at 12:30 p.m. PT on FOX
Wildcat to Watch: Sophomore QB Grant Gunnell Arizona made a dramatic shift at the quarterback position last season, switching from Khalil Tate, one of the most athletic QBs in conference history, to Gunnell, a more traditional pocket passer. Gunnell's style fits OC Noel Mazzone's system better, so while Tate was a dynamic player, the Wildcats expect to be more efficient this season. While Arizona did not have much team success with Gunnell behind center, the freshman put up some nice stats, including 9 TDs to only 1 INT.
Stick with What's Worked
USC has won seven straight games over Arizona and in all seven contests, the Trojans have rushed for 200 yards or more. For context, USC only ran for 200 yards twice last season and only three times the year before, so the Trojans have been able to manhandle the Wildcats in a way that they have not many other teams in the Pac-12. The running game got off to a solid start last week with 175 yards on 4.4 yards per carry. This matchup provides an opportunity to ramp that number up and breathe some confidence into this new offensive line.
New DC Todd Orlando was open and honest about his run defense last week, specifically at the linebacker position, saying, "I've got to do a better job coaching, we've got to do a better job of getting off the blocks and separating, and we will, I can promise you that." The Trojans gave up 258 yards on the ground, although ASU QB Jayden Daniels accounted for 111 of those yards. Arizona had the third best rushing offense in the conference last season, so this will be another test for the Trojans.
In a shortened season, everything is heightened, and you could feel that last week as opening day jitters mixed with an extreme sense of urgency. USC prevailed by the slimmest of margins, and now the Trojans have a favorable slate of games against teams that lack the same experience. There's no doubt that this season provides an opportunity for USC to make a statement about South superiority and then compete for a big prize in the postseason. To make it happen, the Trojans need to calm the nerves and hit their stride before the rest of the Pac can catch up.