Coming off of a statement 42-24 win against Stanford, the Trojans will look to continue their strong start to the season when Texas comes to town on Saturday. With an impressive performance against a competitive Pac-12 rival behind them, the Trojans stay at home for the third week in a row to take on another storied program.
Scouting the Longhorns
After losing in Week 1 to Maryland, Texas bounced back with a 56-0 beating of San Jose State.
“This is a big football team and a talented football team that improved from Week 1 to Week 2,” head coach Clay Helton said.
After hiring Tom Herman, one of the most prized coaches in college football, the Longhorns look to get back in the conversation of college football’s elite. Helton praised the Longhorns’ new hire.
“I’ve also been ultra-impressed and respect coach Herman for a brilliant offensive mind,” Helton said.
Herman has reloaded the Longhorns’ offense with Texas averaging 48 points a game. The Trojans will look to shut down the Longhorns’ run game after rushing for 406 yards against San Jose State.
The Longhorns’ quarterback situation is unclear, as sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele was injured in their opening game against Maryland. Playing in place of Buechele, freshman Sam Ehlinger performed well against San Jose State in their 56-0 win. Despite the lack of clarity on a starter, USC’s game plan will remain.
“They’re really similar guys,” Helton said of the two quarterbacks. “They can both spin it. They have enough athleticism to move the chains, so I don’t think you have to have different game plans.”
Defensively, USC will look to neutralize junior linebacker Malik Jefferson.
”He plays in other people’s backfield,” Helton said. “He’s ultra-athletic, so it will be a challenge.”
Avoiding the Letdown
Many called the victory on Saturday the most complete win in Helton’s tenure at USC. The Trojans are satisfied with the win, but the coaching staff continues to stress the importance of fighting complacency.
“Each week is like a blank slate to me,” Helton said. “I really liked the way they came out today and how they practiced. They’re here for a purpose. We talked about starting fast in September and this is that next step.”
It’s a philosophy that helped USC get to the Rose Bowl last season and the staff hopes the same attitude will keep the Trojans focused on the now. Offensively, the Trojans look to continue the balanced attack that was successful against Stanford. Heading into the matchup, the Trojans are ranked fourth in the country while the Longhorns enter the game unranked.
“I really think [Texas] is a sleeping giant,” Helton said. “We’re going to have to play our best game because it’s our next game.”
One big advantage for the Trojans is that the game will be held in the friendly confines of the Coliseum.
“Our fans in the first two games have been electric,” Helton said. “They’ve helped us in both games. Now there’s going to be even more fans, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
In their win on Saturday, the Trojans were a little dinged up. Junior linebacker Porter Gustin injured his shoulder and toe in the game, but played through pain. Gustin was held out of practice on Tuesday and he will be monitored as the week goes on. Junior offensive tackle Chuma Edoga fell awkwardly on his wrist in and will be reevaluated for Saturday.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker John Houston is also being evaluated after he suffered a “stinger” against Stanford and is experiencing neck stiffness. Helton said that the staff continues to hold out redshirt sophomore tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, who has been fighting a nagging hip injury. Helton said he will not practice until he is back to 100 percent.