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2021 USC Football vs. Arizona State Practice Report: Trojans Back On The Road

Nov 3, 2021

USC is preparing to kick-off their longest road trip of the season, starting with Saturday's matchup against the Sun Devils.

  • The defense is prepping to take on an Arizona State team with a deep offense and impressive run game. "Their quarterback is dynamic, they've got playmakers all over the place, and their O-Line is much, much improved from last year," defensive line coach Vic So'oto said.
  • Drake Jackson has shown improvements as the season has progressed, and the coaching staff hopes to see him continue to grow. "He's been more physical, and that's been my message to him," So'oto said. "The only thing stopping him from being an elite, elite, elite football player is the physicality in the run."
  • Chris Thompson Jr. has taken on a larger role within the defense, due in part to injuries on the defensive line. "He's kinda that hybrid, bigger bodied nickel," defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said. "You're gonna see a lot more of him moving forward."
  • Orlando also expects to see more time from Maximus Gibbs, who he says has developed a better understanding of the scheme. "He's really starting to grow on us," he said.
  • The defense will look to improve on zone and man-to-man coverage this week in addition to building off of the success that the defense saw against Arizona. "Every day is just situational awareness, because that's what college football is," Orlando said. "Finishing plays is the biggest thing in the back end."
  • With several defensive linemen out last week, So'oto was pleased to see players stepping up to fill those positions. "The guys that did play, and understood what the depth was, also understood that they had to get off on third down, help preserve some energy, and try hard, you know, play as hard as they could while they're out there" So'oto said.
  • Orlando and So'oto both emphasized how eager Nick Figueroa is to return to the field and remained optimistic about his return. "He wants to play now, he wants to play yesterday. He's always trying to jump into reps," So'oto said.
  • The Trojans are looking to follow up last week's win against Arizona with a road victory this weekend.