Views from USC
As Arizona football and USC split their last four games, tonight’s prime time match-up is full of storylines.
The Daily Wildcat got the perspective of Jacob Freedman, a senior sports editor for USC’s NeonTommy.com, Galen Central editor and a Daily Trojan reporter.
The Daily Wildcat: Losing 62-41 to a team like ASU isn’t acceptable at a school like USC, but considering the NCAA sanctions, was firing head coach Lane Kiffin so quickly maybe a little too harsh?
Freedman: Kiffin led USC through the sanctions, but his firing was justified. It wasn’t only that USC went 7-6 last year. Players lost confidence in their coach, recruits shied away from USC because of uncertainty over Kiffin and USC’s home attendance was dwindling by the week. There was no sign Kiffin was making improvements after being kept around for 2013, so it was the right time for USC to cut bait.
On campus, who’s at the top of the new coach wish list?
There’s a lot of positive sentiment for Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, while Boise State’s Chris Petersen is a prime candidate if he can be convinced to leave the state of Idaho. Steve Sarkisian is also a name being tossed around. Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is being considered the leading candidate nationally, but on-campus sentiment is to be wary of hiring a leader with no college coaching experience.
The UA regards the win last year over USC as a big one; it has a photo and information on it in the tunnel leading out to the field along with wins over No. 1 Washington and No. 2 Oregon, but ultimately, the Trojans finished 7-6 last year. How big a role did that game play in the end of the Kiffin era?
It marked the beginning of the end for Kiffin. Before there was the 28-0 stretch by Arizona State two weeks ago that sealed Kiffin’s fate, there was Arizona’s 26-0 run in that game to take the lead for good. The Trojans still looked competitive during that stretch, but Matt Scott outplayed Matt Barkley, and with the win put the first nail in Kiffin’s coffin.
Was the performance of USC’s defense at ASU a cause for concern for an impressive unit, or an aberration?
There’s nothing not concerning about allowing nearly nine yards per play. Missed tackles and assignments plagued the team, but I think this week’s matchup is advantageous for the Trojans. USC’s weakest unit on defense is the secondary, but fortunately for them, the Wildcats are a run-oriented squad. Ka’Deem Carey is the most powerful runner USC has faced yet, but the inconsistency of B.J. Denker will allow the Trojans to focus heavily on stopping Arizona in the first five yards.
Kiffin is gone and Ed Orgeron is in, and spirits are much higher at USC. And from the looks of practice, so is the level of effort and engagement. USC quietly has one of the best running attacks in the nation, and Silas Redd’s return will be welcomed. It won’t be as back-and-forth as 2012’s matchup, but the Trojan defense will step up enough to keep the Wildcats at bay.
USC 27, Arizona 17