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Q&A with the sports editors of the Daily Trojan – The State Press

Hailey Tucker and Eric He preview the matchup between ASU and USC

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Photo by Ben Moffat | The State Press

USC redshirt freshman wide receiver Jalen Greene (10) and redshirt junior wide receiver Isaac Whitney celebrate after a USC touchdown against ASU on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The Trojans defeated the Sun Devils 42-14.

By Matthew Tonis | 09/29/16 8:28pm

ASU football travels to play USC on Saturday, and who better to preview the game than those who cover the Trojans? The State Press chatted with the Daily Trojan sports editors to get a better look at who the Sun Devils will see across the field on Saturday.

State Press: Has USC looked better than its 1-3 record would suggest? If so, by how much?

Daily Trojan: USC has been a completely different team each time they have taken the field. Suffering tough losses nonetheless, the Trojans looked the best against Utah despite their flaws. Yes, the Trojans are better than their record from a talent standpoint, but because of questionable coaching decisions it's hard to say which version of USC will show up.

SP: What did you think of Sam Darnold's debut start? Is he a guy that can lead USC back from this hole?

DT: Sam Darnold didn't look like he was playing his first game Friday night. He was able to go into a hostile environment with inclement weather and rallied the offense to what has been its best performance so far. Even though he didn't throw a touchdown, he showed his arm strength and perhaps even more importantly showed his feet, which is something that USC should take full advantage of moving forward.

It's with guarded optimism it seems that Darnold could be another in a line of fantastic USC quarterbacks, but having played only one game, it's too early to tell for certain.

SP: How confident are the Trojans heading into this game after the smackdown in Tempe last year, or has that been tempered by their record?

DT: The team certainly hasn't admitted to any thoughts of taking the Sun Devils lightly, and they certainly shouldn't. USC still has yet to prove itself as a legitimate team in the Pac-12 and even though they have played a tougher schedule than ASU, the Sun Devils have been able to take care of business, something USC has faltered on throughout their rough beginning.

SP: Is USC prepared to stop ASU's three-headed monster on the ground?

DT: USC has consistently struggled with dual-threat quarterbacks and this season there have been some worrisome defensive trends heading into a game against such a high-scoring offense. The defense allowed Utah to go 93 yards last week to score the game-winning touchdown, and Utah was able to constantly ram the ball down the Trojans' throat. The defensive line was one of the more questioned units coming into the season, and on Friday they showed why. Sophomore defensive end Porter Gustin and sophomore linebacker Cameron Smith are monsters on defense though and can each be expected to have double-digit tackles by the end of the game.

SP: Finally, what's your game prediction?

DT: The lower that USC can keep the score the better chance they have at winning, since the offense still hasn't proven itself as a legitimate threat. Playing at home should give the Trojans the extra boost they need though, and USC has a more talented roster than the Sun Devils do. USC will win 28-21.


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