Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
Both USC and Utah are coming off weekends they would like to forget. The Trojans couldn't seem to find an offensive chemistry to fend off the rival Fighting Irish and the Utes seemed to be a little hungover from their upset of Stanford two weeks ago as they lost to Arizona.
- Ed Orgeron did not want to spend any time lingering on questions regarding injuries; however, he did finalize the injury report stating that Marqise Lee and Dion Bailey are both questionable, Nelson Algholor and Ty Isaac are both possible, and Tre Madden is probable. He confirmed that Morgan Breslin, Anthony Brown, Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer, and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick will all miss Saturday's game against Utah.
- Obviously, the Trojans are pretty banged up so fans should expect to see some walk-ons getting extensive playing time on Saturday. Coach O has dealt with situations just like this, playing a walk-on quarterback against LSU when he was at Ole Miss.
- He's especially impressed by the standout leadership from Cody Kessler who has been taking extra snaps with some of the walk-on wide receivers and tight ends. "He's starting to remind me of some of the quarterbacks I used to play with...They would step in the huddle and were always the last to leave the field and the first to get there. Cody's a competitor and has really grown into a strong leader of this team," said Orgeron.
- Utah's offensive statistics don't jump off the page as they average 35 points per game ranking 36th nationally and fifth in the Pac-12. However, the success of their offense largely depends on the health of starting quarterback Travis Wilson. The sophomore QB presents a dual-threat as he can throw and run efficiently. His five rushing touchdowns rank him third in the Pac-12 only behind Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Arizona's B.J. Denker. However, Wilson suffered an injury to his index finger on his throwing hand in the Utes' loss to Arizona last Saturday causing him to throw two interceptions.
- In terms of preparation for either quarterback, Coach O said, "It all depends. We feel like we know what they will do with Travis in there. If the backup quarterback comes in we do have a plan. However, it's one of those things that you kind of feel out during the game when they put a new quarterback in."
- In fact, Coach O has somewhat of an idea of what Utah is going to throw at them offensively as he knows co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson quite well from their days at Miami. The two worked together in South Beach and have two national championships to show for it. Coach O praised his former coworker saying, "He's a big-time coach. He's the guy that is going to take shots down the field. He just takes control of the offense. He's always looking to play physical and run the ball but most importantly, he's a great game day caller... a true gamer."
- There's no doubt that Erickson will look to Travis Wilson to bomb it downfield especially since Wilson ranks third nationally in pass plays of 50 yards or longer. The USC secondary has been focusing all week on making sure they understand their match-ups and execute the game plan as they should see a lot of action come Saturday.
- Expect to see some young, fresh faces on the defense as freshmen linebackers Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings could see some playing time in order to keep the depleted defense rested and ready to play all four quarters. "Quinton Powell is one of the better athletes on the team. It's just a matter of the freshmen learning the defense." Coach O stated.
Here is head coach Ed Orgeron after Thursday's practice...