Q&A: Daily Bruin sports editor talks rivalry game

The Daily Trojan sat down with its rival paper to discuss the upcoming game.

By STEFANO FENDRICH
USC and UCLA have squared off 90 times in their history. The Trojans have the edge over the Bruins, boasting a 50-33-7 record. (Polina Past / Daily Trojan file photo)

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

USC and UCLA will face off for one last time in the Pac-12 this Saturday. The matchup this season pales in comparison to the ranked matchup we saw last year of the No. 7 Trojans and the No. 16 Bruins. Nonetheless, it will be a fierce battle between these crosstown rivals.


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Before the game, I caught up with Daily Bruin sports editor Joseph Crosby to get his take on the upcoming game.

Daily Trojan: Would you consider this season as it stands right now a success or a disappointment for UCLA (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12)?

Daily Bruin: I would definitely call it a disappointment this far, at least compared to last year. Coming off of going 9-4, and then now, at this point, there are so many questionable losses. Between the Arizona and Arizona State games, both of those losses were not good looks. 

Compared to where the program was coming out of last year, there were a lot of quarterback question marks, but Head Coach Chip Kelly being in his sixth year of the program, I think the expectations were kind of an eight-win season. Now, at this point, they need to win their last two games to even hit that 8-4 mark, which is a seemingly very uphill battle for the remainder of the season. I definitely call this season, especially relative to the last two years, a disappointment.

DT: Do you think UCLA’s star players have had a shorter leash? Have fans given them too hard of a time, or do you think it’s pretty fair?

DB: I did think Dante Moore did get a pretty long leash just comparing, like where he started the season coming in as a freshman, and then he had that stretch of three games of Utah (7-3, 4-3), Washington State (4-6, 1-6) and Oregon State (8-2, 5-2). He kind of struggled in those games with the turnovers, but he did get that stretch of three games before Ethan Garbers started against Stanford. 

I think the general reception to the newer guys like Carson Steele and J. Michael Sturdivant has been pretty good. I think a lot of fans and just the overall reaction has been fairly positive, at least in terms of the newer players and the bigger-name players that you see. And a lot of the more frustration has come either with the offensive line or the coaching staff.

DT: What do you think UCLA’s game plan needs to be in order to get a win?

DB: They’re going to need to find some way to contain Caleb Williams. I think that’s obviously the defensive story: He’s the guy for USC and if you can find some way to just mitigate him as much as possible because containment is such a tall task with a guy of that caliber. Just finding a way to mitigate the passing game as much as possible, and let your run defense kind of do its own thing. 

Offensively, I think they just got to run the ball. The passing game is not good at this point in the season. There are still questions of who’s going to play quarterback. Garbers was hurt, Moore was hurt, Collin Schlee got hurt against Arizona State. Is Chase Griffin your starting quarterback for the USC game? So, that’s such a big question mark that I think you’d have to run the ball as much as possible and just try and take advantage of what has been a spotty USC defense and use that as a way to move the ball downfield. The passing game has so many question marks that it’s hard to imagine being able to keep up in that regard with Williams and USC’s offense.

DT: Do you think even if the offense does well, it’s still possible that UCLA can come out with the win?

DB: I don’t think so. I don’t anticipate UCLA winning this game. I think that USC’s offense, they’re averaging over 40 points a game. Defense aside, their offense is so talented and just able to score points. Even when it’s just Caleb Williams left to do Caleb Williams things, even if UCLA has a great day, which by their standards, a great day is probably like 28 points. I don’t think that’s going to be enough to overcome and score more points in the game.

DT: You’ve kind of alluded to it, but what’s your final score prediction?

DB: I’ve got USC 35, UCLA 14. I just don’t see UCLA winning.

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