Photo by Kirby Lee
Oregon Football

Five Players to Know: USC Offense

November 2, 2019

Oregon heads into the Coliseum to take on a USC offense that found its groove late in the game against Colorado. They may have freshmen at quarterback and running back, but out wide the Trojans have arguably the best trio of wide receivers in the Pac-12 -- and one of the better ones in the nation.

Let’s take a look at the five players that you’ll be seeing a lot of on Saturday.

Kedon Slovis (9), Quarterback

Before the season, the 6-2, 200-pound true freshman was the third signal caller on the roster, but he has stepped up and done a solid job.

Back in August, the freshman from Scottsdale (Ariz.) couldn’t have been expecting to play much, but injuries and transfers thrust him into a leading role. Slovis has a 72.3 percent completion percentage to go along with 1,625 yards, 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions; he also has been sacked 11 times.

Look, Slovis isn’t the most athletic guy in the pocket and will make a few bad decisions a game. But he’s great at giving his talented wide receivers a chance to make a play on the football.

When you have the best receiving corps in the Pac-12, they’ll make you look a lot better than you’ll make them look.

Michael Pittman Jr. (6), Wide Receiver

The 6-4, 220-pound senior is an absolute terror for opposing defenses. He and his younger brother Mycah are both great football players, but that’s where the similarities end.

Michael Pittman is a huge target who is able to go up and get the ball over most defensive backs. He has 50 catches for 755 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging over 15 yards a catch.

Pittman leads the Trojans in virtually every receiving category. He’s great in the red zone, because if a defense leaves him 1 on 1 Slovis loves tossing him a jump ball.

Pittman will get a real challenge from an Oregon secondary that has given a lot of offenses fits this year. Expect Slovis to try to get Pittman involved as often as possible.

Tyler Vaughns (21), Wide Receiver

The 6-2, 190-pound redshirt junior is the second piece to the three-headed snake that is the USC wideouts. Vaughns is tied for the team lead in catches with 50, and he has been able to accumulate 638 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Now, he’s not quite the physical beast that is Pittman, but Vaughns is just as effective in his way. Slovis loves looking for him across the middle, and he’s able to do a lot after the catch.

Vaughns is a particularly tough cover when the Trojans spread you five-wide. He’ll look to continue to make an impact on Saturday.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (8), Wide Receiver

The 6-1, 195-pound sophomore has been fantastic for the Trojans so far this season. He has 40 catches for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns.

St. Brown is not as dangerous on 50-50 balls as Pittman, but he is still highly effective. He’s great in the short field and good at creating separation on the first step. And he is physical enough to challenge defensive backs – so much so that the running back-challenged Trojans line him up in the backfield on occasion.

It really is difficult to cover all the weapons the Trojans have. But if Oregon is able to slow down Pittman and Vaughns, St. Brown could be targeted more than ever.

Kenan Christon (23), Running Back

The 5-10, 185-pound freshman saw his role expand in a massive way last week against Colorado. He lead the Trojans with 14 carries for 76 yards and 1 touchdown.

The Trojans have lost big backs Vavae Malepeai and Markese Stepp for the season. Veteran Stephen Carr might be available, but he has been battling injuries.

If Carr and Stepp can't go on Saturday, Christon – a former California prep sprint champion – once again will see the bulk of the carries. He was fine running the ball against Colorado, but he doesn't yet fully utilize his speed and does not break many tackles.

Christon will need to make some big plays to help keep the Oregon defense from dropping a lot of guys into coverage. Oregon's defense is stout against the run, so if Christon can get loose, USC will benefit immensely.

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