Here a five observations from the USC 42-14 destruction of Arizona State Saturday night in Tempe dropping the Sun Devils to 2-2, 0-1 in Pac-12 play.
1) Live by the blitz, die by the blitz:
-Adoree Jackson’s first quarter 80-yard touchdown was set up by a blitz that didn’t get to Cody Kessler. USC had 237 yards after the catch in the first half alone. It was that play that set the tone for the rest of the night. There were many mistakes in the open field by the Sun Devil defense. “We missed some tackles tonight,” head coach Todd Graham said. “Just trying to knock people down.”
2)Penalties, plus other mistakes:
-Demetrius Cherry had a silly personal foul for a late hit on Kessler. Special teams had a personal foul for a face mask in the third quarter. A first quarter drop by Kody Kohl which would’ve been a huge gain, was just the tip of the iceberg for the number of mistakes that the Sun Devils made. Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two field goals which could have shifted momentum.
3)Trojans’ athleticism on the outside:
-The speed of the USC wide receivers against the secondary of Arizona State wasn’t a fair fight. Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuester were a couple of steps ahead of ASU the entire night. “Number two and number nine,” Graham explained. “Those two are pretty dag-gum athletic.” ASU found that out firsthand Saturday night.
-Where is he? Five touches just isn’t enough for a player of Foster’s caliber. He needs to be touching the ball 15-20 times per game without question. Find ways to get him involved early in the game.
5)What does the future hold?
-The Sun Devils have no time to feel sorry for themselves. Next Saturday they play at UCLA and a loss in Pasadena may all but end their hope of a Pac-12 South title. The other way you could look at it is, the Pac-12 is going to beat each other up week in and week out and there shouldn’t be an over-reaction to one loss. “This is the best team we’ve had overall,” Graham said. “We’re just not playing that way.”