Trojans return to the Coliseum for Homecoming matchup against Cal
After two straight road games and a bye week, USC Football makes its return to the Coliseum for a matchup against Cal Saturday. The game is also during USC’s Homecoming weekend, when alumni are welcomed back to campus.
The Trojans enter Saturday’s contest with a 7-1 record, with their most recent win coming on the road against Arizona. The USC offense played arguably their best game of the season, gathering 621 yards of total offense. Although the Trojans were without junior wide receiver Jordan Addison and sophomore wide receiver Mario Williams, redshirt juniors Tahj Washington and Kyle Ford were there to make up for the loss.
Washington had seven receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Ford had six receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams had a career high 411 passing yards and five touchdowns, and redshirt senior running back Travis Dye added 113 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
Head Coach Lincoln Riley said all the players who did not play on Saturday were dealing with injury, but hopes to get everyone back healthy as soon as possible.
“My gut feel is we’ll probably end up getting a few of them back, but maybe not all,” Riley said. “I don’t know if I’d definitively say anyone’s for sure in and certainly won’t say if anyone’s for sure out right now.”
Riley did say everyone was able to participate in Tuesday’s morning practice and is hopeful to play on Saturday.
“We’re doing better and everybody participated but not in a full manner,” Riley said. “We have a lot of guys making a lot of progress and a lot of guys that will be close for the game.”
The Trojans enter Saturday’s game fourth in the Pac-12 in yards per game with 493.5, and are second in the conference in scoring, averaging 41 points per game. USC will face a Cal defense that is giving up 416.8 yards per game and 25 points per game this season. There is potential for Saturday to be a pass heavy game for USC, as Cal is also giving up the most passing yards per game in the Pac-12 with 292.3 passing yards per game allowed.
On the other side, the USC defense is coming off back to back games of allowing over 500 yards of total offense, and will look to get back on track against a Cal offense averaging 374.5 yards and 23.4 points per game this season, good for 10th in the Pac-12.
Junior defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu addressed the recent struggles for USC’s defense, saying they are not far off from where they want to be.
“I think our effort is there,” Tuipulotu said. “Sometimes you want to go so hard, but sometimes you do too much. I think we just have to execute, do our jobs and we’ll be straight.”
Tuipulotu also talked about not getting complacent on the defensive side of the ball and how it could be a factor in some of the struggles recently.
“I wouldn’t say we let up, but it looked like we let up,” Tuipulotu said. “We just have to keep applying pressure and keep going.”
USC’s defensive mishaps over the last two games can also be attributed to sophomore linebacker Eric Gentry’s absence.
The Trojans will hope to get Gentry, who missed last Saturday’s game with an ankle injury, back on the field against Cal. A transfer from Arizona State, Gentry leads the Trojans in tackles with 52 and also has one sack, one forced fumble and two pass break ups on the season so far.
The USC defense is facing a Cal offense led by senior quarterback Jack Plummer, who has 1,968 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Out of the backfield, freshman running back Jaydn Ott is leading the Golden Bears in rushing with 675 yards and five rushing touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter is leading Cal in receiving yards with 544 yards, and freshman wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant is second on the team in receiving yards with 516 yards, and first in touchdown catches with six.
The Trojans have a 70-32-4 all time record against Cal and in matchups at the Coliseum, USC is 36-16-3 all time. The most recent matchup between the two teams was on Dec. 4 last season, in which the Trojans lost 24-14.
Saturday’s game against Cal will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.