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bsn BSN: Breaking down the key matchups between Colorado and USC

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    BOULDER – The Colorado Buffaloes face off with the USC Trojans on Saturday in a massive Pac-12 South matchup. The game will feature a Buffs team that was ranked for the first time since 2005, and a USC team that is 2-3 looking to defend their home Coliseum. While the Buffaloes are looking to nab their fifth Pac-12 win under Mike MacIntyre and a chance for an opportunity to clinch bowl berth at homecoming next weekend, the Trojans are trying to pull it together and keep their season alive under head coach Clay Helton.

    The Trojans’ offense, led by quarterback Sam Darnold, will have to face off against a Buffs’ defense now ranked No. 13 in the country. Each team has potentially explosive offenses and both boasts perhaps their best player at the cornerback position, in Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie and USC’s Adoree’ Jackson.

    With the big tilt on deck, we took a look into the film of the Trojans to break down the key matchups in the game:

    The Colorado defense will face one of its biggest challenges yet, in attempting to contain junior wideout Juju Smith-Schuster. The wide receiver has 320 yards and five touchdowns thus far in 2016. This follows a solid 2015 campaign where he averaged 16.3 yards per catch. Smith-Schuster is a big, physical receiver, standing at six-foot-two, 220-pounds. He is excellent at getting over the top of defenders and has breakaway speed in open space. Smith-Schuster will likely draw a lot of defensive attention from Colorado, potentially from the Buffs’ defensive star Awuzie. Last time out against Colorado, Chido and Co. held Smith-Schuster to three catches for 66 yards, though he did nab a touchdown too.

    Whether or not Awuzie and the secondary will let anyone get open this time is another story. Awuzie has 21 total tackles (two for loss), a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and three passes defended through five games this year. He is everywhere on the field all at once. He can line up at a handful of different positions and has been a huge part of the Buffs’ superb defense this season. The secondary also includes fellow defensive backs Tedric Thompson and Afolabi Laguda, who have had a big hand in containing opposing wideouts as well, each entering Saturday with 25 total tackles on the season.

    USC also packs a punch with their running back group, boasting two backs who nearly eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last season. Sophomore Ronald Jones II has rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown so far this season, while senior Justin Davis has 384 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. Davis also provides dual-threat options, having hauled in ten catches for 89 yards. The tandem will provide a significant challenge for the Buffs’ defensive line on Saturday.

    The Colorado defensive line has had an exceptional 2016 season so far, and has steadily improved at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The line includes several disruptive defensive tackles, including Jordan Carrell , who has 17 total tackles (three for loss), and two sacks through five games, Josh Tupou, who has 20 total tackles (2.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks on the season and Jimmie Gilbert, who had a huge game last weekend. The Buffs’s defensive line will be key in keeping the USC offense under control, and will need to get to the quarterback early and often this weekend.

    Colorado’s defense will have to continue their 18 game streak of causing turnovers (they have nine this season). They’ll also need to improve containment on the run defense, which is something that they struggled with at Michigan. Awuzie and the secondary will need to contain USC’s most explosive receiver Smith-Schuster, and force a few mistakes out of the USC offense to give Colorado a real shot at a win on the road.

    Just as Colorado will have their hands full with the USC offense, the Trojans’ defense will struggle in their attempt to limit the impact of the Buffs’ receiving trio, Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Devin Ross. Fields already has 460 yards and five touchdowns this season, Bobo 248 yards with a touchdown and Ross 364 yards and five touchdowns. The triumvirate has been a huge threat to opposing defenses this year and is perhaps best described by Fields himself.

    “I feel like in general, we are the best receiving core in the nation. I mean I’m the fast outside receiver, Dev (Devin Ross) is the quick slot receiver and Bryce is the big outside receiver,” said Fields. “I mean you put all of those together and excuse my language but we have one helluva receiving core. It’s just like that change up where you can throw it to either one of us and we know we are going to make the play.”

    Buffs’ running back Phillip Lindsay has had a solid 2016 season as well, racking up 338 yards and six touchdowns. He will challenge the defensive line of the Trojans, and help to maintain the multi-dimensional attack that has made the Buffs’ offense so successful this season.

    The questions at quarterback still loom large for Colorado. Will it be Steven Montez or Sefo Liufau who leads the offense into battle? If it is Liufau, will he be healthy? Montez, who is currently listed first on the depth chart, has stepped up in the wake of Liufau’s injury and has played exceptionally well. He has completed 63.2-percent of his passes for 743 yards and has added eight touchdowns to only two interceptions. He has also flashed big-play potential while using his legs to make him a dual-threat option. Liufau was having a solid season before his injury, racking up 768 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions with a 71.1-percent completion rating. Each quarterback brings different advantages, but if Montez gets the start, it will be a tale of two freshman quarterbacks, with Darnold winning out over Max Browne at USC.

    No. 21 Colorado will look to put an end to a 0-10 all-time standing against USC this Saturday. A balanced offense and a turnover-inducing defense will be the key factors to a road victory for the Buffs, who enter L.A. as the five-point underdogs.

    Samantha Weaver
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