USC Coach Lane Kiffin is concerned about how young players will react when they play against Arizona State on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.
But freshman safety Su’a Cravens is not worried.
Cravens has started every game and is fourth on the team with 18 tackles. He has intercepted a pass and also forced a fumble.
“This game was a great test before Arizona State,” Cravens said after the Trojans defeated Utah State. “It’s going to be crazy over there in Arizona and I think we’re going to be ready for it.”
Arizona State opened the season as one of the teams to beat in the Pac-12 Conference South division.
That scenario still might play out, but the Sun Devils did not look the part last week in a non-division road game against No. 5 Stanford.
Arizona State fell behind by 29 points before scoring three times in the fourth quarter to make the final margin 42-28.
“Obviously, we weren’t ready to play,” Arizona State Coach Todd Graham told reporters Monday during his weekly news conference.
The early meltdown in the loss took the luster off the Sun Devils’ start, which included a 55-0 victory over Sacramento State and a controversial 32-30 victory over Wisconsin.
“You go win this one,” Graham said of the game against the Trojans, “and everybody loves you again.”
Kiffin would welcome, if not receive, a similar wave of goodwill if the 3-1 Trojans defeated Arizona State.
In 2011, under former coach Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils beat USC, 43-22, to end an 11-game losing streak against the Trojans.
USC gained only 282 yards and struggled again on third down against Utah State.
Trojans fans were not impressed, but Graham apparently was.
“Offensively, obviously they’ve got big-time talent,” Graham said, “big time play makers — their running backs, wide receivers, they’re as good as you can play against.”
After playing three consecutive games at the Coliseum, tight end Xavier Grimble and teammates are looking forward to going on the road.
“There are some tough games ahead, but this is what it’s about —- bringing a team together, going to hostile environments and putting on a show and executing,” Grimble said.
Grimble was in the spotlight against Utah State. He scored his first touchdown of the season on a 30-yard pass from quarterback Cody Kessler and also had a nine-yard reception.
Grimble has eight catches for 88 yards this season.
“We’re not where we want to be, but it’s improving,” he said of the offense. “I feel like things have progressed each week —- we’ve just got to finish more.
“We’re moving the ball and getting down the field. We’ve got to finish. We’re a play away, a pass away.”
Kessler, who suffered a right hand injury against Utah State, did not have tape or wear any kind of protective padding on his hand for practice. Receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) was in pads and cleats for practice. Kiffin has said both will be “fine” for Saturday’s game…. USC punter Kris Albarado was selected the Pac-12 Conference special-teams player of the week after placing five of seven punts inside the 20-yard line against Utah State, including two inside the five. Albarado is averaging 40.3 yards per punt.