The Arizona Wildcats saw their four-game winning streak snapped this last weekend after an abysmal second half against Washington, and they now face the never-easy trip to the Los Angeles Coliseum where they play the USC Trojans on Saturday night.
Both USC (3-3, 2-1) and the UA (4-2, 2-1) currently find themselves in a four-way tie atop the wide-open Pac-12 South (along with Utah and ASU) and the winner of this weekend’s clash will gain something of an upper hand in the division title race as the second half of the 2019 season gets underway.
A first win in six years for Arizona against the Trojans would also put the Wildcats just one victory away from bowl-eligibility with a mouthwatering five games left to play.
A loss though, would be yet another reality check for Kevin Sumlin’s team which was outscored 38-10 by Washington in the second half last time out. A defeat would also mean it would have to begin to confront a harsh reality, where getting the two wins needed to get to bowl eligibility simply won’t be as easy as it once seemed to be a couple weeks ago after the Colorado game.
Here’s what some of Arizona’s players had to say about what they’ve seen from the Trojans so far this year, bouncing back after the UW loss, and more:
Linebacker Colin Schooler on USC’s offense: “I feel like they’re more of a passing team than they have been traditionally. They’ve got a good quarterback, athletic receivers, strong O-line, and a good running back. So that’s classic SC. But I feel like they throw the ball more this year than they normally have.”
Schooler on if he plays with a chip on his shoulder against a hometown school like USC that didn’t recruit him: “Personally, I can say that about every Power 5 team that we play. I mean, this was my only power five offer. So I feel like when I walk in the door I got a chip on my shoulder from that. I don’t forget that. I don’t forget how late the offer was either. So I feel like that’s what I bring every single day, and I remind myself of that. But it’s a Pac-12 South conference game. So I’m going to treat it as one. Whether we’re playing UCLA, Colorado or SC, it’s really all the same.”
Schooler on what the team has to do to move on from the loss to Washington: “It’s important to realize that our season is not over, our goals are not out of reach, and that we can still go reach those goals. As a team we just have to stick together and know that outside of this building nothing really matters.”
Wide receiver Cedric Peterson on what he’s seen from the Trojans on film: “They’ve got a bunch of athletes on their team. Granted we’re in Pac-12 play now so everybody has talent, so it just comes down to being technicians and being ready.”
Peterson on the team’s mentality after a loss: “We try keep it the same. Even after a win we find out the things we need to fix, that we messed up on and things like that and when we lose it’s the same thing. Just find those things that we could have capitalized on better. Even when you win there are learning points and always things we can fix to get where we want to be.”
Peterson on playing against USC as a Southern California kid: “You know growing up in California it’s always a big thing for all of us, playing at the Coliseum. It’s a big stadium, big stage. Everybody knows where USC is. And you know, a lot of the dudes on the team (from Southern California and LA) probably didn’t get recruited by USC. But I mean, going back home is always great, it’s always good to have a fan base of family and friends who come out to the game. So I’ll be happy to see them and to allow them to watch me play.”
Arizona defensive lineman Trevon Mason on the biggest key defensively this week: “Just come out strong. Come out and smack them in the mouth early and don’t let them get hot. That’s the key every week but we have to come out strong.”
Linebacker Tony Fields II on USC: “They’re a wide-ranged team. They like to run the ball and they like to pass the ball, they do that a lot. They have a lot of athletes. We just got to go out there and be ready to know exactly who they want to go to and to cover them accordingly.”
Fields on the keys for the Wildcats to be successful on Saturday: “I feel like we just need to go out there and play our own game. We need to play a complete game. Like Coach Sumlin says all the time, we haven’t played a complete game yet, we haven’t played to the best of our ability. And we still haven’t. So I feel like in order to go out there and give you guys the show you want to see, we need to play a complete game.”
Running back J.J. Taylor on if he has any extra motivation playing against USC being from Southern California: “I guess there’s extra motivation. Just because it’s USC, and you know as a young athlete, watching college football, USC was always the top dog. So it’s always exciting to play against them.”
Taylor on if this weekend’s game is even bigger for Arizona coming off a loss: “Every game that we play now is going to be big. We have to come out with the same mentality that we’ve been. With that winning mentality.”