Forget the stuff about wanting to play against the best. Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez probably would be happy to never see USC receiver Marqise Lee again.
Arizona might avoid having to see Lee this Thursday night, as he is questionable to play after suffering a knee sprain against Arizona State on Sept. 28.
Lee did not practice Sunday night.
The junior hasn’t had a great follow-up to his Biletnikoff Award-winning season. The Trojans have struggled in the passing game, with inexperienced Cody Kessler taking over for Matt Barkley at quarterback, and Lee’s tag-team receiving partner, Robert Woods, now in the NFL.
And don’t get USC fans started on the play-calling of recently ousted head coach Lane Kiffin.
But Lee won’t want to miss the debut of interim head coach Ed Orgeron and another shot at Arizona. He caught 16 passes for a Pac-12-record 345 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats last season. He also had a 72-yard kick return and nearly hauled in a Hail Mary for the winning points as Arizona held on to beat the 10th-ranked Trojans 39-36.
“Our strategy last year was to let him get so many yards that he cramped up,” Rodriguez said. “After he got about half a mile, he had to go out for a play to loosen his cramps. That’s all we did last year. That’s a horror show for us defensively.”
Lee has 30 catches for 385 yards and one touchdown through five games.
He leads a depth-challenged group of wideouts, whose only other main threat is Nelson Agholor (11 catches, 192 yards, one touchdown). Tight end Xavier Grimble, who had a touchdown reception vs. Arizona last season, is also a good target.
USC, which has tried to lean on its running game this season, should get back senior Silas Redd, who has not played this season because of a knee injury. He will join Tre Madden (583 yards, 5.3 per carry) and Justin Davis (311 yards, 7.4 per carry) in the backfield.