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Football welcomes Arizona for homecoming game


first_imgRedshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jay Tufele (right) and redshirt senior defensive lineman Christian Rector (left) line up against Notre Dame Saturday. (Sarah Ko | Daily Trojan) Both USC and Arizona look to regain their footing Saturday when they face off at 6:30 p.m. in the Coliseum. But despite inching closer to a record on Saturday, Tate did not look like the veteran he is. He completed just 52% of his passes and was sacked four times. It’ll be a toss-up whether Tate has another poor performance or if he’ll bring the heat against the Trojans as he did versus Colorado two weeks ago.  The Trojans host Arizona at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The loss of redshirt junior tailback Vavae Malepeai, who underwent knee surgery Tuesday, will be a big hit to the Trojans. The surgery will clear out swelling that has caused him soreness all season. In Malepeai’s absence, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell emphasized keeping redshirt freshman tailback Markese Stepp and junior tailback Stephen Carr fresh with touches.  “I think we’re at least as good as each and every team we’ve played,” Helton said. “We got a tremendous opportunity to go try to win six games and try to get back to Santa Clara.”  Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Jay Tufele expressed a sentiment that seemed to say it wasn’t the Irish who won Saturday’s game but the Trojans who lost it.  USC (3-3, 2-1 in the Pac-12) will be coming off back-to-back losses to No. 25 Washington and No. 8 Notre Dame. Not only is this USC’s homecoming weekend, but it is also a true homecoming for the Trojans, having been away from the Coliseum for four weeks now. This bodes well, given that USC is undefeated at home this season. USC has also won its last six games against Arizona (4-2, 2-1 in the Pac-12), and have dropped just two games to the Wildcats since 2001. center_img Arizona is the No. 9 offense in the nation by yardage, with 3,056 yards under its belt so far. USC’s weakness has been the defense, which allowed the Irish to run for 308 rushing yards. The Trojan offense chugged along, putting up 426 total yards, but they’ll continue to struggle this weekend unless they get their defense under control. However, USC’s offensive attack will likely meet little resistance from Arizona, which ranks No. 11 in pass defense out of the 12 teams that make up the Pac-12.  Unlike USC’s offense, led by newcomer Slovis, Arizona is led by a third-year starter. Senior quarterback Khalil Tate threw his 53rd career touchdown pass last weekend against Washington, putting him just 14 touchdowns away from tying the school record of 67.  The Trojans and their Air Raid offense were able to move the ball well on Saturday. Their downfall though, as freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis said postgame, was execution. USC will undoubtedly be looking to capitalize on the opportunities it creates for itself in this upcoming game against the Wildcats. Conversely, Arizona is ranked third in the Pac-12 in third-down conversion rate at 46.84%. This upcoming game will be USC’s first of six straight conference matchups and a stepping stone on the path to head coach Clay Helton’s goal of capturing the Pac-12 title. There is little room for continued error in this coming stretch.  “Everyone’s spirit is up. There were three games that all had the same thing in common, just minor mistakes,” he said. “I don’t think it was anything big. It was just us. We hurt ourselves. When we start rolling and when this team starts going, I think we can be the best in the country.”  Undoubtedly, fundamentals and executing properly will be a focus for the Trojans in this upcoming game. last_img read more