Thursday’s matchup is a massive one for both programs. USC lost its first two games last week, and an upset for Colorado could earn the Buffs some votes next week when the new AP Poll comes out.
So, managing editor Matt Zemek of Trojans Wire let us know what to expect from USC’s bench — or lack thereof:
Frankly, USC doesn’t have bench players Colorado should be worried about. It has been a real struggle for the Trojans to get their bench to play well since the COVID-19 pause ended. It’s true that in November, USC had seven or eight guys making significant contributions. Joshua Morgan is a lengthy defender who hustles and rebounds well, but he is not an every-game force for this team. Isaiah White had to deal with academics in December, before the COVID-19 pause. His season was interrupted, and it has been hard for him to find a good rhythm and fit with the roster since the COVID pause ended. USC really needs him to find his groove; currently, he is not a particularly effective player.
Reese Dixon-Waters played well against Oregon State but has not made a consistent impact for the Trojans.
Yes, the Trojans bench has been a sour spot in a rather successful beginning to the season. But, as Zemek mentions, the biggest concern for Colorado will be the fact that USC actually had a chance to practice:
The big concern Colorado should have heading into Thursday’s game is that USC had three games in five days this past week. There was no time to practice and polish skills. Now that USC doesn’t have a three-game week, the Trojans can actually practice a few times. They can get back to basics and find their groove again. That’s what Colorado should be afraid of. The Pac-12’s adjusted COVID schedule has thrown USC out of joint. Maybe the Trojans are overrated, but if they settle down and perform well under a more normal schedule, that would tell us that their struggles were more a product of the disrupted season than any inherent flaws.
After a rough three-game stretch in five days due to a rescheduled game against Stanford, the Trojans had a few days to recover and get back to basics, and that should be a concern for Colorado.
It won’t be an easy test at all for Colorado, but it will be an important one to see how Tad Boyle’s team holds up against one of the best programs in the Pac-12.