Anytime you face-off against one of the top rated teams in the country, there’s going to be plenty of talent on the other side of the field. That’s exactly the case as the Irish travel to Los Angeles to take on the No. 5 USC in a highly anticipated matchup. The home team has plenty of firepower, led by Heisman candidate Caleb Williams and his go-to receiver Jordan Addison. Since we all know about their exploits, we won’t touch on them but here are five of their teammates that could give Notre Dame problems.
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Running back Austin Jones
AUSTIN JONES RUNS IT IN FOR THE USC TOUCHDOWN!! pic.twitter.com/O3BmoM1mMr
— Brian Y (@byysports) November 20, 2022
Against Colorado, USC suffered a huge loss, running back Travis Dye was lost for the remainder of the year. Someone had to step up and it was Jones, who filled in well against the Buffs and then impressed again in the high scoring affair against UCLA. Jones averaged 5.7 yards-per-carry while gaining 120 yards and scoring twice on the ground. He added four receptions for 57 yards, a very impressive stat line. Jones has solid speed and is shifty with a knack for getting into the end zone. The Irish are going to need to keep Jones in check
Defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 21, 2022
The nations sack leader will be a tough task for the Irish offensive line. Not only is Tuipulotu productive, he’s a big time difference maker. He’s fast off the edge, is extremely strong and has an array of different moves to be offensive tackles, his go-to move being the bull rush. He lines up over the right tackle mainly so it will be Blake Fisher’s job to keep Tuipulotu quiet. It’s a tall task for one player so expect the Irish to use a back to help chip or double-team Tuipulotu.
Wide receiver Mario Williams
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 16, 2022
None of the three top options for USC are physically imposing receivers, all of them are very electric however and Williams fits that bill. He’s second on the team in average yards-per-catch with 18.8 and tied for second with four scores. Williams was battling an injury against UCLA, which is why his numbers weren’t really that impressive. Against Utah, he was, with four catches for 145 yards showing the kind of ability Williams possesses. The Irish second is going to have their hands full with Addison, Williams and Tahj Washington and will need to be on the top of their game.
Defensive back Mekhi Blackmon
Mekhi Blackmon in coverage vs UCLA:
⚔️ 15 Yards Allowed
⚔️ 1 INT | 1 PBU
⚔️ 8.3 Passer Rating Allowed
⚔️ 89.5 Coverage Grade pic.twitter.com/8SA20JPVgy
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 22, 2022
The Trojan secondary is very impressive, their top four players have racked up tackles and takeaways and Williams leads the pack. Fourth on the team in tackles with 49, he’s also added three interceptions and a very impressive 11 passes broken up. As you can see above, Blackmon was a lock-down corner against Utah and the Irish will need to know where he lines up and might be better off throwing away from his direction.
Linebacker Shane Lee
— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) November 20, 2022
The man in the middle of the Trojan defense, Lee leads the team in tackles after transferring in from Alabama where he was a Freshman All-American. An injury derailed his sophomore year and he didn’t see much playing time which prompted him leaving from Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide’s loss was USC’s gain, as Lee has returned to his freshman form. He had a pick-6 in his Trojan debut and grabbed another one last week and has also added 2.5 sacks the fall. Lee is a three-down linebacker, so expect him to be on the field a whole lot on Saturday.