Football continues prep for titanic clash against Arizona

Sophomore linebacker Jordan Iosefa will move to edge after impressing the Trojan coaching staff at middle linebacker this fall. Photo by Katie Chin | Daily Trojan

After last week’s bounceback win over Arizona State, the football team took to the practice field Wednesday ahead of a pivotal home game against 23rd-ranked Arizona. Coming off of four straight wins, the Wildcats are a hot team with an explosive offense. As both teams have just one conference loss, the winner of this game will be in pole position to take the Pac-12 South.

Potent Wildcats

In four games since Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate took over the offense, Arizona has averaged 48.75 points per game, including 58 against 25th-ranked Washington State last week.

“The numbers speak for themselves, and they play up to those numbers,” defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said. “They’re a really good running attack, and their offensive line is very well-coached. I think their running backs work really well in unison with the offensive line, cutting off certain techniques and blocks. They force you to defend all 11 players.”

Head coach Clay Helton agreed.

“Not only is this a very explosive offense, it’s also an offense that plays with extreme tempo at times,” Helton said.

Helton said that the defense prepared for Arizona’s quick attack with a drill called “fastball,” where the offense runs plays as fast as possible.

“Arizona does an exceptional job, especially after explosive plays, trying to get to that tempo really fast,” Helton said. “There’s no time to catch your breath because the next play is coming.”

Tate is an electrifying runner, leading the nation with 13.4 yards per carry. He already has 926 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns on the season. His blinding speed has made for numerous highlight plays, like his 82-yard touchdown last week. He’s also a capable passer, having thrown for 784 yards on 11.7 yards per attempt and six touchdowns.

In response to Tate’s athleticism, sophomore linebacker Jordan Iosefa will move to the edge. Iosefa, a great athlete in his own right, said Tate is a great player.

“We’ve got to be able to contain him, keep him inside the box, and we’ll be fine,” Iosefa said.

Stephen Carr Primed for Return

After missing multiple games with a foot injury, freshman running back Stephen Carr has gotten more practice work this week.

“He’s looking very promising for the game in some type of capacity,” Helton said. “I don’t see him getting a ton of plays, but it looks like he’s leaning toward being available Saturday.”