Despite a slower start than anticipated, USC was able to beat Arizona State 42-28 as Caleb Williams was forced to play his first full game of the season after normally sitting after the second or third quarter. Williams has thrown for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns in four games this season.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Arizona State stole the defensive power of the Grinch
The focus of each game is on the defense’s performance, as winning against teams like Georgia, Texas, and Michigan is impossible if the defense doesn’t improve. The upcoming game against Deion Sanders and Colorado on Saturday at 12et/9am on Fox will be a big test for the defense. Although Colorado is no longer in the Top 25, they want to prove themselves after being demolished by Oregon. It is unclear if the bye-week has affected the defense’s performance, but it was not as good as the Stanford game.
However, Alex Grinch, the defensive coordinator, will work with the players in practice to correct their mistakes. Allowing 28 points to the Sun Devils was the most points ASU has scored this season, and they were also shutout 29-0 to Fresno State the previous week.
Calen Bullock impressed by picking up his first interception of the season, and Jaylin Smith leads the team in tackles. Solomon Byrd had two sacks and forced a fumble with constant pressure. The defense needs to be consistent every Saturday.
Lloyd’s position as the running back showcases his skills and commitment to win
USC had a slow start on offense, but managed to score 42 points and secure a win. This game was the team’s lowest-scoring one so far this season, but it shouldn’t be a concern moving forward. The offense appeared to be doing well on the first drive, but there were some miscommunications between Lloyd and Williams on the field. When looking at the running backs on the team, it’s clear that MarShawn Lloyd has been exceptional since week 0.
Lloyd wasn’t sure what his role on the team would be at the start of the season, as there was a battle between him and Austin Jones. Both can move the ball up the field, but Lloyd has terrific vision that allows him to read the defense and make smart plays. He has rushed for 349 yards in 39 carries, compared to Jones’s 142 yards in 17 carries. Lloyd rushed for 154 yards in the win against Arizona State.
Since joining USC, Lloyd has expressed his excitement about having a fresh start. He was particularly motivated to play in Lincoln Riley’s offense, which he now gets to experience.
Brenden Rice is establishing himself as a prominent figure
Saturday night’s game was Rice’s standout performance, repeatedly overpowering his defenders. As we have previously discussed, he must be a top option for the Trojans as the team’s leading receiver.
It’s clear that Rice inherited his talent from his father, Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. Despite being in only his second year with the Trojans and entering his senior year, Rice has already scored five touchdowns this season. This is a significant improvement from last season when he only caught a total of four touchdowns. Rice played his first two seasons at Colorado before transferring to USC on January 18, 2022.
Under the leadership of head coach Lincoln Riley, USC has the potential to become one of the best offenses in college football. However, to achieve this, every player on the team needs to maximize their potential. Williams has been successful in getting the most out of every player on his team, including Rice.
Rice ranks second in receiving yards, third in receptions, and first in touchdowns on the team. He is poised for an exceptional year with one of the nation’s top teams.