Our friends over at Conquest Chronicles was nice enough to answer our usual questions for them!
Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
Our leading wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. is out with a shoulder injury so true freshman Amon-Ra St. Brown will likely see his targets increase. Before Pittman Jr. made a surge in October, St. Brown was actually our leading receiver. The national media won’t let anyone forget that St. Brown and JT Daniels played at Mater Dei together and that mystical mental connection is real. The deep threat with St. Brown and Daniels will be the offense’s biggest resource. With 505 yards, St. Brown can make any catch and the bond that he and Daniels have means the young quarterback doesn’t have to work hard to get him the ball.
Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
I think by now most everyone knows about seniors like Cameron Smith, Marvell Tell III, and Iman Marshall, so Cal should also make a note to account for redshirt-junior defensive lineman Christian Rector. Last week against Oregon State, he had nine tackles and 2.5 sacks. Against Utah he had 10 tackles and two sacks, so he is definitely a threat in the pass rush department, especially with USC losing Porter Gustin.
Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for USC?
True-freshman wide receiver Devon Williams. While he is only under the radar because last week was the first time he saw game action, he stepped up to the plate after Pittman Jr. went down. He recorded three receptions for 77 yards and a 41-yard TD. Though he’s not even played a full game yet, with Pittman Jr. out he will likely see action on Saturday. Since USC has such amazing talent at receiver with Tyler Vaughns and St. Brown, I think Cal may underestimate Williams going into the game. He can make the right adjustments, I mean hell his TD came right after he missed an opportunity to run downfield for a deep ball. He is also 6-foot-5 so a huge target for Daniels to throw it up to. It only takes one game for USC receivers to make their names known, fans saw it in years past with Marqise Lee, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and this year with St. Brown. This week’s match-up may be Williams’ chance to do it himself.
What does USC need to do to win the game?
USC has fallen into a trend that when their offense is faltering their defense shines, but when their offense shines their defense falters. The Trojans have yet to really play a complete game. If they can do that on Saturday then it will be another conference win, if they can’t then it’s anyone’s game. Cal’s defense this year is no joke, so USC can’t afford to have their defense slip if their offense is struggling. Honestly, the outcome of this game is up to USC’s offense and whether or not they can get in the end zone and not settle for field goals.
What does Cal need to do to win the game?
If Cal can shut down USC’s offense then they can win the game. I don’t think the Golden Bears could win a shootout with Chase Garbers or Brandon McIlwain, so they will have to stop Daniels, running back Aca’Cedric Ware (who had a career high 205 yards and three touchdowns last week), and USC’s deadly receiving threat. USC is also extremely thin in their defensive backfield with multiple starters and back-ups sidelined with injury, so if Cal can shut down the Trojan offense and exploit our injury-ridden backfield then they can easily win this game.
How do you see the game going?
I see USC’s offense struggling at first, though there is just too much talent for it to be all game, especially with Clay Helton’s improved playcalling. Though the Trojan defense is plagued with injuries I don’t see Cal’s offense as much of a threat. This year the game has the potential to be a close one, but I think USC pulls off a win in the end. A scoreline reading something along the lines of 24–14.
Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
To go along with “Beat the Golden Bears week,” I’ll say Aaron Rodgers. He’s cocky and rubs me the wrong way. What’s up with his entire family not speaking to him? Bad vibes, man. Yes, I am ready for my mentions to explode.
What is your Cal–USC prediction?
This poll is closed
Big Cal win
Close Cal win
Close USC win
Big USC win