Coming off of a 21-17 victory over Colorado, the Trojans began gearing up for another conference battle. On Saturday, USC will travel to Tucson where they will face the Wildcats in their only road game during the month of October.
Due to injuries at the quarterback position, the Wildcats haven’t announced who their starter will be, but Helton sees enough similarity in them to prepare for each of them in the same way defensively.
“I’ve been very impressed with them offensively, especially at quarterback. I know they’ve had injuries,” head coach Clay Helton said. “One thing they do, is they are all extremely good at running the football.”
To prepare for the Wildcat defense, Helton said there would be a lot of film study for redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold to do. Arizona disguises their defensive schemes and is very aggressive, something which Helton and his staff are preparing for.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold has provided a spark to the offense, but has had three fumbles in three starts, including two on Saturday. Darnold said he is aware of the problem and has made it a priority.
“To be honest, in the game, I don’t think about it, which is something that has to change,” Darnold said. “I’m not mindful enough of the ball. That needs to change and it will.”
The offense is averaging 635.33 yards per game since Darnold took control of the offense and he ranks eighth in the nation in passer rating.
“No one can stop us so far if we don’t turn it over,” Darnold said. “We’re only killing ourselves. We’re going to go as far as we want ourselves to go.”
The Trojans have been banged up and continue to be. The greatest loss is senior running back Justin Davis who suffered a high ankle sprain on Saturday and is listed as likely to be out for this weekend. In Davis’ absence Helton said he expects to see a lot more from sophomore running back Ronald Jones II.
“He’s getting there,” Helton said. “Between the tackles, I’m hoping the reps in real, live-game action will help him. I truly think the kid is ready for a breakout game.”
Additionally, senior right tackle Zach Banner is still questionable, though he did practice Tuesday.
“It’s just hurt not being out there,” Banner said. “We’re a tough team. I think we’ve gotten better every single week, and I couldn’t be any prouder of my guys.”
Redshirt senior defensive end Jabari Ruffin has been cleared from concussion protocol. Redshirt senior tight end Taylor McNamara is struggling with back and quad injuries. Junior defensive back Jonathan Lockett practiced despite still dealing with shoulder injury, and senior linebacker Michael Hutchings was limited in practice by his shoulder injury.