Fresh off a 62-41 loss to Arizona State and the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin, USC looks to bounce back against Arizona on Thursday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is now interim head coach. He's been quoted as saying, "This is my shot," according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
Orgeron certainly has his work cut out for him. After being ranked to start the season, USC is 3-2, including brutal Pac-12 losses to Arizona State and Washington State. The Trojans allowed 612 total yards to the Sun Devils on Sept. 28, committing four turnovers on offense.
Meanwhile, Arizona has gone 3-1 (0-1 Pac-12) this season. The Wildcats are coming off a 31-13 loss in their first big test against then-No. 16 Washington on Sept. 28. Senior quarterback B.J. Denker struggled mightily in the loss, going 14-of-35 for 119 yards while tossing two interceptions.
Let's take a look at the Pac-12 clash on Thursday in Los Angeles.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Thursday, Oct. 10 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, Calif.
Watch: Fox Sports 1
Betting Line (via Covers.com): USC -6
Arizona Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: LB Jake Fischer (Ankle)
Probable: G Chris Putton (Knee)
USC Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: OL Zach Banner (Hip), DL Greg Townsend Jr. (Knee), CB Devian Shelton (Foot)
Questionable: WR Darreus Rogers (Ankle), CB Anthony Brown (Knee), RB D.J. Morgan (Knee)
Probable: WR Justin Davis (Ankle), WR De'Von Flournoy (Ankle), RB Silas Redd (Knee)
Top Storyline: How Will Ed Orgeron Fare as Interim Coach?
Ed Orgeron has a very different style of coaching than Lane Kiffin.
According to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com, running back Silas Redd, who is expected to play for the first time this season against Arizona, noted, "They're just two different types of people. Coach Kiffin is more strict. Coach O. is more loose."
Orgeron has already opened practice to the media after Kiffin closed practice to reporters to start the season, according to the AP report. He's also been open about injuries, something Kiffin was never comfortable with.
Will Orgeron's more laid-back approach benefit a program in turmoil, or will it be more of the same in Los Angeles? Orgeron's trial period starts now.
Prediction: USC 27, Arizona 17
I have to believe the putrid defensive display exhibited by a unit that was strong coming into the matchup with Arizona State was a sign of players quitting on Kiffin.
The Trojans hadn't allowed more than 285 total yards or 14 points before the Sept. 28 clash, but they looked horrible against the Sun Devils.
Arizona's 13-point outing against Washington doesn't bode well for the Wildcats if USC comes to play at home on Thursday. If Denker had enough pass attempts to qualify, he would rank dead last in yards per pass attempt (4.9). He's tossed two touchdowns to two interceptions this season. He can be dangerous with his legs (280 yards, six touchdowns on the ground), but that's about it.
Even after the Trojans' deplorable performance against Taylor Kelly and Arizona State, they still rank 15th in the nation in yards allowed per pass attempt. They rank 34th in yards allowed per carry.
I expect USC to rally around Orgeron, thankful that Kiffin is no longer with the team.