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Game Preview: No. 10 USC Faces First Pac-12 Opponent In Stanford

Sep 9, 2022

Who: USC vs Stanford

Where: Stanford Stadium; Stanford, CA.

When: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 4:30 p.m. PT on ABC

All-time series: USC leads, 63-34-3

Stanford Player Spotlight:

Quarterback Tanner McKee:

  • Took over starting spot from the NFL-departing Davis Mills in 2021

  • Though Stanford only won three games in 2021, McKee was a bright spot for the team due to his strong arm and IQ on the field

  • In the Cardinal's first game of the 2022 season against Colgate, McKee completed 22 of 27 passes for 308 yards with two touchdowns and one interception

Corner Kyu Blu Kelly: 

  • During his junior year in 2021, Kelly led the Pac-12 in passes defended and was nominated to the conference's All-Pac-12 second team

  • 2021 stats: 11 games played, 58 tackles, 11 PBU (2nd in the Pac-12), 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble

  • Against Colgate last week: 3 tackles and 1 solo tackle

Keys to the Game:

  1. USC's run defense starts strong

    • After having a slow start against Rice, USC's defense must prove that it has learned from its alignment issues from week one to week two. Stanford's run game on Saturday will mirror similar concepts to what the Trojans saw against Rice. The Owls' longest runs of the day were a result of USC's defense not fitting the run properly. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch stressed this week that improvement is necessary, especially when facing a physical team like Stanford.

  2. Make quarterback Tanner McKee uncomfortable

    • McKee has a strong arm that loves to connect to Stanford's tall wide receivers, creating an ideal one-on-one matchup downfield against an opponent's corners. USC's secondary will be taxed if the junior quarterback has time to settle in the pocket and make multiple reads. It will be up to the Trojans' front seven to create havoc upfront and get McKee off his spot early in the game.

  3. The Trojans' offense makes the most of every opportunity

    • Part of Stanford's DNA under head coach David Shaw has been long, clock-draining drives on offense. That, in turn, will leave quarterback Caleb Williams & Co. with limited opportunities to score. The Trojans must capitalize on every series to give enough breathing room for their defense. In light of last week's performance, this doesn't seem like too big of a task for the Trojans. The team punted just once against Rice and it came in the fourth quarter when USC's starters were already pulled.

Preview Podcast: