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Game Preview: USC Football's Offensive Line to be Tested Against Washington State

Oct 7, 2022

Who: USC vs Washington State

Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

When: Saturday, Oct. 8 at 4:30 p.m. PT on FOX

All-time series: USC leads, 62-10-4

Last meeting: USC won in Pullman, 45-14 in 2021

 

Washington State Player Spotlight:

 

Quarterback Cameron Ward:

  • Sophomore, 6'2, 220

  • Second-consecutive mobile pass thrower that USC will face this month

  • Transferred from Incarnate Word in 2021, where he set the program's record for career passing touchdowns (71) and passing yards (6,908)

  • So far in 2022 at Washington State:

    • 131 of 191 for 1,445 yards on 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions

  • Ranks third in Pac-12 for passing yardage and tied for third in passing touchdowns

  • Has been sacked 12 times this season

    • 4th most out of Pac-12 quarterbacks

 

Linebacker Daiyan Henley:

  • Redshirt senior who transfered from Nevada in 2021

    • Recorded 103 tackles, 3 TFLs, and 4 PBUs last season

  • So far in 2022:

    • Tied for 2nd in FBS and leads Pac-12 in TFLS at 9.5 through five games

    • Wazzu's leader in tackles (44) and sacks (4)

    • Tied for 2nd in the conference in tackles and tied for 3rd in sacks

  • From Los Angeles and went to Crenshaw High School

Preview Podcast with former USC Quarterback Cody Kessler:

 

Keys to the Game:

  1. Protect Caleb Williams

    • The calling card for Washington State's defense is bringing pressure. The Cougars rank 3rd nationally in tackles for loss and are tied for seventh nationally in sacks. It will be critical for USC's offensive line to communicate and correctly identify Wazzu's pressures to buy quarterback Caleb Williams time.  can't let the Cougars speed up his "internal clock" or the rate in which he makes his progressions.

    • "That's one thing that you don't want to do as a quarterback, you don't want to feel rushed," Williams said Wednesday. "So you go through your progressions, if you feel something, you get up in the pocket, you get out. You get up and you deliver."

    • The Trojans' offensive line health will be something to keep an eye on as well. Tackle Courtland Ford is returning to full health and played the first half of last week's game against Arizona State. Head coach Lincoln Riley listed guard Justin Dedich (lower leg injury) as a game-time decision.

  2. Make Cameron Ward Uncomfortable

    • USC will face another mobile quarterback in the Coliseum Saturday in sophomore Cameron Ward. Just like last week, it will be key for the Trojans' to contain the edge and prevent Ward from having an open lane. The signal caller can also light it up with his arm, but is prone to making errant throws. He has thrown seven interceptions through five games, most of which have come from getting the ball out quickly when in the face of pressure. It will take a full effort from USC's defense to not only bring pressure and make Ward uncomfortable, but to also limit his ability to improvise when a play breaks down.

    • "There's not a magic answer for it," defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said Wednesday. "One of the things is making sure when you get a chance to get them down, you got to find a way to and you got to make sure as best you can. If you're not specifically in coverage, it's all hands on deck."

  3. Win the Battle on Special Teams

    • USC's special team performance has varied so far in 2022. "[On] kickoff, we've had some good games, had some bad games," head coach Lincoln Riley said earlier this week. "They were a big part of the reason we won at Oregon State. We've had two games here as of late where we haven't played the level we need to on kickoff." There could be a scenario Saturday where both teams are neck and neck, trading scores. The margin for error is so small that type of matchup, and thus special teams could make the difference between a win and a loss. At the halfway point of the season, USC should look to put it together in all three phases against Washington State.