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USC Film Study: What BYU can expect from the Trojans this Saturday

The Trojans boast a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.

Stanford v USC Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

To help prepare for this week’s game against the Trojans, we decided to review some game film from USC’s first two matchups with Fresno State and Stanford. The major headline coming out of the first two week was the devastating injury to sophomore quarterback JT Daniels and the rapid accent of freshman Kedon Slovis. While that might be the biggest talking point for the local media, there are plenty of other observations that we were able to take away from those games.

Here are the top five things that we noticed.

Don’t kick the ball to Velus Jones Jr

In the very first play of the game vs Fresno State, Jones Jr busted off a massive return deep into Fresno territory only to have it called back because USC put two guys with the same number out on the field. The Bulldogs kicker didn’t learn his lesson and in the second half Velus went untouched for 100 yards to the house. He got some great blocking but it was his pure speed that made the difference.

BYU will need to win in every aspect of the game and taking risks on special teams is a dangerous venture. Skyler Southam needs to put on his big boots and make sure the kickoffs sail deep into the end zone.

USC puts up big passing numbers with the Air Raid, but they can still run the rock

The big news in Los Angeles is the arrival of Graham Harrell and the vaunted Air Raid offense that he learned from one of BYU’s finest graduates, Mike Leach. While the passing attack will be their main source of big plays, they still have some horses at running back that can tote the rock. Stephen Carr on has 12 carries on the season but he’s averaging a solid 7.4 yards per carry. Vavae Malepeai is their workhorse (35 carries) and also averages a decent 5.0 yards per carry.

In the video below, you’ll see Carr get the handoff on a on outside zone read and easily take it to the house. The Stanford defense doesn’t do itself any favors by getting out of position but Stephen still has to make a man miss, which is no sweat for the junior running back.

This will be a main focus as BYU is near the bottom of the NCAA in rushing defense after two weeks. The Trojans will most definitely throw the ball but the front seven needs to be ready to stuff the run.

USC has some athletes on defense

To the surprise of no one, USC has some great players on defense that can make big plays. They’re not always the most disciplined bunch but based on pure talent alone they can cause a lot of problems. Standford’s David Mills was getting his first start and looked the part for most of the first half. In the video below you’ll see him try a dangerous throw to the sideline which gave Greg Johnson an opportunity to make a play on the ball. BYU has already faced a solid secondary in Utah, so facing this caliber of athletes won’t be new for BYU. They just need to be ready for the passing lanes to be a little bit smaller on Saturday.

USC’s defense can be beat with discipline, execution

Call me Bronco Mendenhall, but based on what I saw in the first two games, it looks like USC’s defense is vulnerable against a disciplined offense that executes. Now BYU’s offense hasn’t been exactly that the first two games but we saw glimpses of it against Tennessee.

In the clip below you can see Fresno State get a score thanks to a great play concept and some crisp routes from the Bulldog wide receivers. The USC defense tends to rely on their talent and when Fresno, a team the infinitely less talent, executed they were able to put up points. If BYU can avoid penalty and miscues, they should be able to move the ball.

Tackling will be priority #1 for the BYU secondary

The whole premise of USC’s offense is spreading the field so that they can put the ball in the hands of their best playmakers and let them do work. The Air Raid has worked for years at schools like Texas Tech and Washington State, often with players that were passed over by the blue bloods. Now that system is in place with a bunch of 4 and 5 star recruits.

Tyler Vaughns is their big time receiver and here in this clip he shows us why. A decent route, a quick shake of the defender and an easy score. BYU’s defensive backs will need to make sure these big playmakers for USC don’t get free or else they will make them pay.