Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Goodbye Washington, Hello Nor Cal

The Trojans completed the Washington Sweep for the second straight year by completely dominating the Washington State Cougars 55-13. USC beat the Washington schools by a combined score of 106-37 (80-12 last year) and now the Trojans take on the the two Nor Cal schools in back to back weeks. This week the Stanford Cardinal comes to to visit the Coliseum and next week the Trojans travel North to take on the Cal Bears. As a side note, the Trojans struggled last year vs the Nor Cal schools, winning both games by a combined 54-45 margin.

Tailgate Update

  • We have been fortunate to enjoy a great season of tailgating so far this year. Thanks to everyone for contributing food, drink, cooking skills and most importantly your presence!
  • Thanks to everyone's help, we have been able to create a mellow, family environment at the tailgate...the goal is to make it like your family room (with a few more people), just at the Coliseum
  • The Stanford tailgate should be outstanding. Curt & Jennifer are leading the charge to take the food to the next level....tri-tip, shrimp/chicken kabobs and more on the menu this week
  • In addition, Saturday features some of the best pre-game football viewing of the year including Notre Dame/Tennessee (11:30), Cal/Oregon (12:30), UCLA/Arizona (3:30) and Miami/Virginia Tech (4:45)
  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions, comments or complaints

Notes & Tidbits on the Washington State Game

  • This game was dominated by the Trojans from start to finish...the offense was outstanding, but I am starting to get excited about the defense (remember what I said last week!)
  • 745 total yds for the Trojans vs 284 for the Cougars (more on this below)
  • 40 USC first downs vs 13 for the Cougs
  • This is the 3rd time this year that USC has scored 28 points in one quarter
  • Dwayne Jarrett had career highs in catches (11) and yards (200) and continues to lead the nation in TD receptions (13)
  • It was great to see Steve Smith return to the endzone with 2 TD catches...this was only his second game with more than 1 TD catch (2005 Orange Bowl-3 TD catches)

  • The Trojans had 13 rushes of 10yds or more and 7 passes of 20yds are more....amazing stuff
  • The Trojans converted 10 out of 14 3rd down conversions and only punted twice
  • USC's offense has looked much better the last two games...very controlled and efficient. The return on the bubble screen (a Mike Williams favorite in 2002 & 2003) to Dwayne Jarrett and Patrick Turner is a welcome sight
  • Leinart seems to have regained his 2003 & 2004 form with another terrific outing. I know Matt is upset about the interception, but he has really picked up his play the last two weeks
  • I know the coaches are frustrated that the Trojans put the ball on the ground 3 times (Reggie, Jarrett, Booty/Matua) and that White juggled a ball while running. I expect ball security to be much improved this week
  • The Trojans are still struggling to execute the screen pass, a play which has been very successful in the past. I am sure the coaches are on top of this and will get it right
  • How about that Trojan defense! The Cougars came into this game averaging 40pts and 520 yards and USC held them to 13pts and 284yds.
  • The Cougs' previous lows were 21pts and 407 yds...the Trojans became the first team to hold WSU under 400yds and put the exclamation point on the performance by holding the Cougs under 300yds as well
  • The Cougars were only able to convert 2 out of 13 third down conversions....getting the defense off the field on 3rd down has been a problem this year for the Trojans so it was nice to see USC execute better on 3rd down
  • How is this for a home field advantage? USC is holding opponents to a 27.5% 3rd down conversion ratio at the Coliseum (11-40), but allowing a 46.7% conversion ratio on the road (35-75). Obviously the stat is impacted by a more difficult road schedule to date, but it is interesting nonetheless
  • It was disappointing to see Cougar RB Jerome Harrison break a couple of big runs, but he is a talented back and the Trojans did a nice job of minimizing the damage. I have full confidence in USC's ability to stop the run on a consistent basis
  • Harrison is only the 3rd RB in USC's last 42 games to rush for over 100yds
  • The Cougar's success at running came at the expense of their passing game. The Cougs only threw for 89 yards and the much maligned Trojan secondary held superstar WR Jason Hill to 6 catches for 49yds
  • Josh Pinkard is making huge strides a corner...he is a physical player with speed and great instincts. The Trojan secondary is starting to gel and should be much improved for the remainder of the season
  • Speaking of the seconday, how about the jarring hits from Justin Wyatt and Scott Ware! Nice to see the Trojans playing physical football in the secondary
  • Lawrence Jackson made a great play to strip Jerome Harrison and recover the fumble which led to a USC touchdown
  • Other than Jackson's play, the Trojan DL did not make many plays....recording zero sacks and only 2 tackles for loss....look for the DL to be more aggressive against the Cardinal
  • I would still like to see Reggie turn the ball more upfield on returns
  • Rey Maualaga bent his facemask during a vicious hit on a Cougar kickoff returner...Rey is a fast aggressive player that has a bright future for USC

Stanford Preview

  • Stanford is coming off a devastating loss to the Bruins....Stanford was up 24-3 with 8 minutes remaining and found a way to lose the game in overtime
  • Prior to the loss to UCLA, Stanford had posted 3 consecutive Pac 10 wins against WSU, Arizona and ASU
  • The Cardinal are a well-coached team that does not make many mistakes, having not committed a turnover in 4 games and leading the conference in turnover margin
  • Stanford's offense has been efficient this year, but not explosive. The Cardinal are ranked last in the conference in Passing Offense and Total Offense and 9th in rushing offense
  • It's hard to believe, but the Trojans average almost double the yards per game that Stanford produces (601 vs 310)
  • However, due to a lack of turnovers and good production in the redzone, Stanford is still averaging almost 28pts per game
  • Stanford's QB Trent Edwards is completing 64% of his passes for 12 TDs and only 2 interceptions
  • Stanford's leading receiver, Mark Bradford, was injured during the first quarter of the Bruin game and may not be able to go against the Trojans
  • The Cardinal also played UCLA with their leading rusher, Anthony Kimble...it is unclear if he is going to play on Saturday. Former nose guard (yes nose guard) Nick Frank, led Stanford's rushing attack last week against the Bruins with 13 carries for 61 yards
  • Stanford likes to execute the short passing game and will likely try to replicate Notre Dame's offensive strategy
  • Defensively, Stanford is ranked in the bottom third of the conference (#8 in pass D, #6 in rush D, #7 in scoring D and #6 in total D)
  • Stanford's defense is lead by nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo...he will likely require a double team from the USC offensive line
  • USC really struggled against this Stanford team last year, falling behind by 11pts at halftime before rallying for a win in the second half....I expect the Trojans to play with urgency early in the game to set the tone
  • Offensively, I think the Trojans will continue with the same game plan we have seen against UW and WSU....short drops and bubble screens to set up the the down field throws
  • Reggie needs a big game to get back in the Heisman race...I hope he lets the game come to him and does not try and force the issue
  • Later in the game, I expect the Trojans to pound the running game
  • I hope the Trojans can get back on track in stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. I expect the DL to play much better this week after getting an earful from Coaches Carroll and Franklin
  • Keith Rivers will likely sit this game out so look for increased reps for Colin Ashton and Brian Cushing
  • Dom Byrd is banged up (hip) and may not play.... I am still waiting for Fred Davis to have a breakout game. Fred did have a nice catch in run against the Cougs

I look forward to seeing everyone on Friday. Let's hope the Trojans can grind out another Pac 10 victory at the Coliseum.

Fight On!


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