Bryson Shaw could be the X-factor for USC defense in November

October is ending. November is about to begin. We are through Week 9 of the 2022 Pac-12 football season, heading into Week 10. USC is almost certain to be 9-1 through 10 games. The Trojans will have everything to play for heading into their rivalry games against UCLA and Notre Dame. This is how it should be.

What isn’t how it should be: USC’s health.

The Trojans are missing a lot of bodies, including on defense. They didn’t have Eric Gentry or Ralen Goforth against Arizona this past weekend. They also didn’t have Korey Foreman. We keep waiting for Foreman to give this team more, but injuries haven’t cooperated.

Maybe it’s time to look for a new X-factor on this defense.

It could be Bryson Shaw. Let’s dive deeper into this topic:

PICK OF THE CROP

Shaw’s interception against Arizona was a huge play. It enabled USC to build a 15-point lead. Though the Trojans allowed that 15-point lead to be whittled down to two points, it remains that the temporarily large scoreboard advantage enabled USC to go through a bad patch and still have the lead. That play still mattered a ton. Shaw made an enormous contribution on a day when he and the other members of the USC secondary had very tough assignments against Arizona’s high-level receivers.

SHAW AFTER THE ARIZONA WIN

“Couple guys down at ‘backer, they need DBs to step up, we were ready,” Shaw said.

ON HIS JOURNEY THIS YEAR, DEALING WITH INJURIES

“It’s been tough, of course,” Shaw said. “I’m a competitor.”

MORE ON HIS BIG INT AGAINST JAYDEN DE LAURA

VIDEO

BACKGROUND FROM BRYSON SHAW'S DAD BEFORE THE ARIZONA GAME

THE INJURY LIMITED HIS SNAP COUNTS

BEFORE THE INTERCEPTION, HE WAS MAKING TACKLES IN THE SECONDARY

AS IT HAPPENED

THE FULL STAT LINE VS ARIZONA

PART OF A NEW ALIGNMENT

OLD TAKES EXPOSED

POSITIVE IMPACT

SHAW'S PASS BREAKUP VS ARIZONA WAS A 4-POINT PLAY

FINAL THOUGHTS, PART ONE

USC’s injuries at linebacker forced Alex Grinch to use a lot of odd combinations and alignments against Arizona. The matchup against the Wildcats’ receivers (who are really, really good) forced Grinch to play against the pass and use a lot of corners and safeties.

Against UCLA’s more balanced attack, USC will have to account for the run game more with Zach Charbonnet. However, on obvious passing downs, you should see Shaw in dime packages and other DB-heavy groupings. That alone makes him more valuable and central to the Trojans entering November.

FINAL THOUGHTS, PART TWO

Shaw might still be rusty. He could have some ho-hum games the next two weeks against Cal and Colorado. That’s okay. Shaw can use these two games, in which USC is expected to win easily, as his practice and preparation for the really big games versus UCLA and Notre Dame. Shaw can use the coming weeks as a time to settle into the playing rotation and gain more of a comfort zone.

FINAL THOUGHTS, PART THREE

The bottom line with Bryson Shaw is that while a lot of his teammates are hurt, he’s a healthy player who will get more playing time. He is physically fresh and therefore perfectly positioned to give this defense an added boost.

It will need it. That’s an X-factor if I ever saw one.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire