Kiffin, who has already seen two college head coaching stints and one with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders when he was 32, has looked to rebuild his career as the offensive coordinator under Nick Saban, whose tenure at Alabama has seen four national championships in seven seasons. Alabama’s recent Week 1 conquests include a 41-14 mauling of MI in 2012, in the same venue the Tide and Trojans meet Saturday; a 35-10 win over Virginia Tech in 2013; a 33-23 defeat of West Virginia in 2014, the closest of the Tide’s recent season-opening wins; and last year’s 35-17 victory against Wisconsin.
This might sound confusing, and that’s because before the BCS and the College Football Playoff, there were many seasons where multiple schools split national titles based on the results of different end-of-season polls. Three Crimson Tide linebackers are expected to receive All-America consideration: Tim Williams, Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson.
But the depth of that challenge is what excites Trojans coach Clay Helton. “These are two of the greater coordinators in the country between Coach Kiffin and (USC defensive coordinator Clancy) Pendergast, and for the fan it’s going to be very entertaining”, Helton said. As Pro Football Focus noted, he forced 12 missed tackles previous year, one of which came at the expense of Utah’s Dominique Hatfield. Alabama returns its unit of punter JK Scott and kicker Adam Griffith.
And those players could emerge quickly.
That’s the beauty of games like this. Heck, the last few seasons have given us plenty of electrifying backs. So you have to come with intensity every day and prove why you deserve to play. “But he knows we know he loved that play”.
“I don’t know how he’s become the villain of all of college football”, Baxter said. “Did we play to our standard?”
Must-watch games: Clemson at Florida State (Oct. 29), Alabama at LSU (Nov. 5), MI at Ohio State (Nov. 26). USC won in Birmingham in 1970 as the first integrated team to play in the state. Alabama led the nation in sacks last season, so that’s something to watch. The young guys are making progress and we want them to continue to get a better understanding of what they need to do on a consistent basis.
“Do your job one play at a time and don’t get caught up in the grandness of the stage or the opponent that you’re playing”, Helton said.
Sophomore talents, such as Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley and USC running back Ronald Jones II, aren’t even eligible for the draft yet.
“He’s an interesting guy, and I’m sure he’s personally excited about the game, but Lane Kiffin is a guy who is going to go out there and have a game plan of what he needs to do to win the game”.
What: No. 1 Alabama vs.
What’s on the line? Yet as he leads his team into Saturday’s game at Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State coach Todd Graham is not taking anything for granted.
Don’t snicker, but this game has playoff and perhaps national championship implications.
FILE – At left, in an October 31, 2015, file photo, Southern California head coach Clay Helton gestures before the start of their NCAA college football game against California, in Berkeley. A close loss would tell the Pac-12 that the Trojans are on the comeback trail.
Alabama has more uncertainty surrounding its quarterback position than USC, as redshirt freshman Blake Barnett and junior Cooper Bateman left fall practice locked into a tight battle for the starting job.
It’ll be hard for Smith-Schuster to find a crease, considering Alabama has Phil Steele’s No. 2 ranked secondary. In his addition, Nick Saban ensured a lateral transition following Kirby Smart’s departure to Georgia. He is going to be a matchup problem for a lot of defenses because of his size and speed, and if he plays well early on, the Trojans might have a dynamic 1-2 in their wide receiver group with him and Smith-Schuster. Each and every player will be important for SC, but the three mentioned here will be of particular importance to the team’s success.