USC vs. Arizona: Q&A with Conquest Chronicles

Jeff Gross

We caught up with Trevor Wong of USC blog Conquest Chronicles to preview the Arizona Wildcats' game against the USC Trojans.

We exchanged Q&A's with USC Trojans blog Conquest Chronicles, and our answers to their queries can be found here.

1) We wrote about Arizona and USC games being pretty close games. With this one being in Tucson, is Trojan nation a little on edge about any chance for an upset?

I hadn't realized how close the matchups have been over the last six years until reading that post. I wouldn't say Trojan fans are on edge about a possible upset, but it's certainly a game to watch out for. If you're the believer in "looking ahead," this would be the classic so-called trap game with USC hosting Oregon next weekend. You can also view this is as a possible tune-up before that big game, too. With the spread offense the Wildcats run, it'll be interesting to watch how the Trojans' defense performs, especially on the road.

2) Reading around, there were a lot of concerns this week about the number of USC penalties. Is there any one thing that you see being the reason for this?

It's discipline. On the offensive side of the ball, though, it's hard to say because the offensive line hasn't been able to find any continuity or rhythm with injuries (Khaled Holmes) and trying to find a left tackle that can protect Matt Barkley's blind side. It is a bit concerning considering the Trojans' haven't faced stiff competition yet. But if the penalties continue to pile up against better teams, it could very well be the difference between a close win or a close loss.

3) The obvious formula for success appears to be giving the ball to Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. I'm sure teams have been trying to stop them (obviously, it hasn't worked). Does USC do anything out of the ordinary to get these two the ball, or are they just too good?

I'm not so sure Lane Kiffin does anything out of the ordinary to get those two the ball. After all, most of their passing attack is centered around those two and Kiffin will design plays to get the ball into the hands of his best playmakers. Of Barkley's 140 completions this season, 104 of those have gone to Woods (44 receptions) or Lee (60 receptions). So almost three out of every four pass plays, one of those two will get the ball. Opposing defenses have enough trouble covering one, but trying to contain, or at least slow down both, usually doesn't happen unless the Wildcats can get to Barkley first before he finds his favorite targets.

4) Who are some players that Arizona fans might not have heard about but should keep an eye out for come Saturday?

On offense, watch for tailback Silas Redd. Of course, the Trojans' passing attack gets most of the credit, but on the road, I'd be a little surprised if Kiffin didn't use Redd more. The transfer from Penn State has three 100+ yard games and is on pace for his second straight season with at least 1,000 rushing yards. On defense, defensive end Morgan Breslin has been the heart of that defensive line. The junior college transfer leads the team in sacks (seven) and is a key reason why that unit has performed so well thus far.

5) Do you feel like USC's defense is where you'd like it to be, and how do you think it'll fair against Arizona's fast-paced spread offense?

The Trojans' defense has actually surprised me just a little bit this season, giving up just under 17 points per contest (ranks 18th in the nation). They've also recorded 14 interceptions and 27 sacks through just seven games. For much of the season, while the offense was still trying to find itself, the defense kept the team in ballgames or it can be argued they single handedly won games for the them. As noted above, this will be a good test for the defense and a tune-up before they have to face the most dynamic offense in the nation next weekend. I feel as if USC can do enough to contain Matt Scott, his receivers and Ka'Deem Carey, and force a couple turnovers that will impact the game.

6) This is not game related, but call it a bonus question. Matt Barkley is pretty damn good. Where do you rank him among USC quarterbacks of all time?

Over the last decade, I'd say Barkley is at the top of the list. He might not be the most gifted athletically in terms of his arm strength or his mobility, but considering the circumstances (sanctions, bowl ban, etc) he's had to endure while at the university, there's no way you can put him anywhere else. I'm not just talking about on the football field, either. He's a class act off the gridiron in how he acts and leads others, and embodies everything a Trojan stands for.

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