USC needs defensive answers in must win
NOV 09, 2012 3:52p ET
After giving up 1,318 yards over the past two weeks, including 673 through the air, Kiffin could turn to wide receiver Marqise Lee to help out on the defensive end Saturday when No. 19 USC (6-3, 4-3 Pac-12 South) hosts Arizona State (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12 South) on Saturday at noon.
After Oregon had a record-setting performance last Saturday against the USC defense everyone wants to take the blame.
Kiffin, his dad –defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin – and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron have all taken turns this week taking the blame for the Trojans defensive woes. Yet there are answers that need to be found.
Lee may be able to provide some, at least, in certain situations. The number of snaps or how much he'll play on defense has yet to be announced by Kiffin but it's something that was brought up about a month ago when Lee begged and pleaded with his head coach to be allowed to play cornerback.
"I think we're always trying to find different ways to use Marqise," Kiffin said.
The team won't have time to lick their wounds with the Sun Devils coming into town for Homecoming. They have to, somehow, take the next step. Adjustments need to be made.
"We got a chip on our shoulder right now," said USC safety T.J. McDonald. We want to go out there and prove we the defense that we know we are."
Although, at this point, any national championship hopes are a distant memory,there is still a lot for the Trojans to play for.
The Rose Bowl is still a very real possibility for USC. It's not exactly what the fanbase was hoping for but, still, a BCS bowl nonetheless. After Arizona State, the Trojans have games against their two most hated rivals, at UCLA and at home against Notre Dame in consecutive weeks.
In addition to deflated balls, the UCLA rivalry took front page earlier this week although it was still more than a week away after an impostor of UCLA freshman defensive back Randall Goforth tweeted at USC wide receiver Robert Woods saying the Bruins would "get it in" against the Trojans on Nov. 17.
Before they can get to that very important game, USC must first deal with Arizona State. This is a must win for USC if they hope to continue to be able to control their own destiny.
They trail UCLA by one game in the Pac-12 South Standings with two games to go. UCLA, on the other hand, has three conference games remaining. If the Trojans can win their final conference games of the season, they'll punch their ticket to, likely, Eugene for the Pac-12 Championship in December.
The Sun Devils are in the discussion to win the Pac-12 South as well, needing to win out and get some help with UCLA losing two of their last three games. The Bruins own the tiebreaker after defeating the Sun Devils in Tempe two weeks ago.
Under first year head coach Todd Graham, Arizona State will limp into the Coliseum on Saturday losers of three in a row beginning with the Thursday night massacre they suffered on national television against Oregon last month.
Despite their recent woes, the Sun Devils are no pushover. They're seventh in the nation in pass defense and second in the conference in sacks.
They're tied for second in the conference in scoring offense, averaging 37 points per game. They can move the ball, which is a problem in itself because USC has shown an inability to stop the ball over the last couple of weeks, especially against Oregon, when they showed little resistance.
So, how does this team rebound defensively?
"Realistically, I wouldn't say for sure right now what we'd do different because that wouldn't be very smart except we need to play better," said USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. "That's for sure."
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