1. How does Sam Darnold change the offense compared to Max Browne?
Sam Darnold mobility adds another element to the USC offense. It gives USC the ability to run true read options with the quarterback, where Browne is a true pocket quarterback. Darnold also brings a spark to this offense with his arm to challenge down field and escape ability to keep the plays alive. Nothing against Max Bowne but Darnold truly fits the USC offense.
2. The defensive line shut down the Sun Devils last week. Who are the standouts of that group and how can CU mitigate their presence?
Rasheem Greene and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu stood out pretty good against a high scoring Arizona State offense. While USC brought the blitz during the game, they managed to open up area's to allow the safeties and linebackers to get into the backfield. The best way Colorado can mitigate their presence is by going to the outside and quick releases, however I expect Clancy Pendergast to bring some pressure just like last week. Also double team blocking should neutralize and buy more time for the quarterbacks to get throws off or to allow Colorado's run game to function.
3. How is the morale of the team? Does Clay Helton still hold the locker room and can he last after this year?
After the victory over ASU, the team's morale has been pretty good. While the team started 1-3, they managed to get themselves together and stick with it. Clay Helton still has the locker room, without a doubt. The players asked for him and they'll stick with him regardless of what anyone outside that locker room says, However Helton isn't out of the woods yet. the success of the team going forward will determine if he'll get another year or not. Remember Clay Helton isn't Lynn Swann's hire, so if things don't go as well for him then he can go in another direction. USC will have to win out or at least go 6-1 in order for him grab another year.
4. Who the players to watch on offense? Defense?
On offense obviously Sam Darnold is a player to watch. The offense has completely improved with him at quarterback the last two games. Darnold brings everything together on offense. Outside of him JuJu Smith Schuster and Justin Davis are players to watch. Smith-Schuster has come alive in the last two games vs Utah and ASU. He's being put into positions where he becomes the threat that he is. Justin Davis has played a giant part in the running game for USC. If you're not careful then Davis can break huge runs on you, like he did last week.
Defensively Adoree Jackson continues to show why he's one of the best, if not the best, cornerback in the nation. You won't hear his name called too much but usually that's because quarterbacks won't throw to where he's at. Porter Gustin will be a guy to keep an eye on coming off the edge. Last week he hurried Wilkins to make a bad throw that almost resulted in an interception.
5. How can CU keep Adoree Jackson from affecting the game?
Plain and simple, Don't kick to him! Adoree on special teams is very dangerous, so kicking to him would be a huge negative for the Buffalos. Best way to neutralize him is by not allowing him the opportunity to beat you on kickoffs and punt returns.
6. What are your predictions for the game?
USC know that this is a huge game for them and won't take the Buffalos lightly.Colorado has shown progress year after year and shown that they can go on the road and put up a huge fight. USC gets another shot at a ranked team and will claw to get back into the Pac-12 south race. I expect this game to be a well fought and close one, however I have USC pulling away in the fourth quarter. I believe the USC defense will make just enough plays to throw Colorado off it's game.