Monday, September 25, 2006

Cougars Look for Revenge

Another good win for the Trojans on the road. Arizona played tough and certainly made it difficult for USC...I think facing adversity on the road is a good thing for USC at this point in the season. Trojan fans are spoiled with memories of blowing everybody out of the game before halftime...not going to happen this year. This was a solid win on the road against a team that had been preparing for USC all summer. No pictures this week...several of my internet sources have blocked access and we did not take any pics on the trip...sorry!

It was great seeing everyone in Tucson...very good turnout by the Trojans. Kudos to Dennis, Curt, Andy and Liz, Jim Beaubien, Dan Cherrie, Michael and Kimberly (sorry if I missed some folks) for the solid effort. Here are some quick hits on the AZ game and other tidbits of interest:

  • USC held Arizona to 8 first downs, -16 yards rushing, 154 total yards and 3 points. The Wildcats never drove the ball inside the USC 25 yard line....that is playing defense!
  • I just cannot say enough about the play of Rey Maulauga...the guy played one of the best games I have seen from a college linebacker. He pressured the quarterback, outran blocks to make plays sideline to sideline and absolutely destroyed blockers in the hole. Sky is the limit for Rey
  • Fili Moala and Chris Barrett continue to impress. Not only are they holding the interior DL together, they are disruptive and playmakers. Nice to see kids step up when their number is called. This experience will be invaluable when Sedrick Ellis returns
  • I can go on and on about just about everyone on the defense...suffice it to say that this unit is playing some outstanding football and opposing coaches are starting to take notice. How about that hit from Kevin you think WRs watching tape on that are looking forward to running the post?
  • Emmanuel Moody has clearly separated himself from the other RBs and has earned the the bulk of the carries. He played great against the Wildcats and has nice numbers on the year (7.0 yds/carry). However, he does tend to swing the ball out from his body and I do worry about ball security with him...I know the coaches are all over this
  • I think Booty has played extremely well in the first 3 games. Much better than Leinart in his first 3. Booty makes good decisions and is very accurate. He does not have the touch on the deep ball (see my comment last week) and that hurts him with passes like the one to Fred Davis down the seam
  • The coaches know what they have and are playing conservative to get the W. It can be frustrating as fans, but the coaches knew that Nebraska and Arizona were not going to threaten without the help of turnovers. They played it safe and won both games...not as exciting as previous years, but just as effective. The Trojans will start to open it up...may or may not be this week
  • The OL has been a bit of disappointment so far. Not a big problem, but I expected this unit to be more dominant. I hope it continues to gel...this will be the key to improved play and consistency on offense
  • I am still stunned that the Bruins lost to Washington after going up 16-0. The Bruins will crush Stanford this week, but have a very big game against AZ next week. If the Bruins are 3-2 going into ND the week of 10/21, it could get ugly in Westwood
  • It will be interesting to see if Arizona can regroup from this loss. We have seen several teams completely sell out to beat the Trojans and then come out flat for several weeks after the loss (see Fresno St last year)
  • Arizona QB Willie Tuitama left the game with a sprained ankle in the 4th quarter...if he is healthy and Stoops can keep the Cats motivated, I like AZ in a very close game
  • Huge game between ASU and Oregon this week. If Oregon beats ASU in Tempe, the Sun Devils may go into a tailspin. Looking forward to seeing that game

Washington St. Preview

  • The Cougs are 3-1 with a loss at Auburn (40-14) and wins against Idaho (1-3), Baylor (1-3) and Stanford (0-4). The two wins by Idaho and Baylor were against 1-AA Idaho St. and Northwestern St.
  • WSU has some very good players including Mkristo Bruce (national leader in sacks), Jason Hill (one of the best WR in America) and Michael Bumpus (former SC recruit who is an outstanding WR and PR)
  • The Cougs are always tough up in Pullman so the Trojans cannot look past this game. It may be tough to avoid as the Trojans have just absolutely rolled the Cougs the last 3 years with a combined score of 140-41
  • WSU is ranked 18th nationally in total offense (428yds with nice balance between run/pass) and 31st in scoring offense (31 pts per game)
  • However, a more careful analysis shows that Idaho and Stanford have 2 of the 3 worst defenses in college football (literally!). Stanford is ranked 119 (last) in total defense and Idaho is ranked 116 (3rd from last). Against Auburn and Baylor, WSU averaged 305 yds and 15.5 pts
  • The Cougs are going to be without 2 starting OL against the Trojans. Given the play of the Trojan DL and LB in the first 3 games...this matchup could be trouble for WSU
  • However, Alex Brink is a somewhat mobile QB and will throw often on the run/roll out. Look for this by design as the Coug coaching staff tries to buy Brink time and diminish the pressure on their patchwork OL
  • Don't be surprised if/when Gary Rodgers enters the game at QB...he is a big strong-armed kid and the fan favorite...the Cougs have a bit of a QB controversey on their hands
  • WSU has a group of solid backs led by #35 DeMaundray Woolridge, #1 Derrell Hutsona and #31 Dwight Tardy. Woolridge is a power back between the tackles while Hutsona is a speed back with nice him out of the backfield. Woolridge leads the team in yards, but is battling a thigh bruise...the Trojans will likely see all 3 on Saturday
  • I don't think WSU can run on USC consistently, so I expect them to turn to their passing game. Hill and Bumpus are outstanding WRs and Boyd is solid TE. The Cougs can do some damage in the passing game. I think we will see very similar defensive alignments from USC on defense this week as we did against the Cats....front 7 trying to handle the run with the 2 safeties playing back to protect against the big play
  • The Cougs have turned the ball over 9 times in 4 games, so this could be a factor in the game. Look for the Cougs to test the Trojan secondary down field...the big question is whether Carroll will send pressure or rush 4. When the Trojans sent pressure against Arizona the results were favorable...look for a few new blitz packages
  • Defensively, WSU is ranked 47th it total defense (#80 against the pass, #34 against the run) and 46th in scoring defense (19pts/game)
  • Auburn torched the Cougs for 40pts and 484 yds, but WSU pretty much shut down Baylor, Idaho and Stanford
  • The defense plays an aggressive style....taking risks to force turnovers and tackles for loss. Bruce has been dominant this will be interesting to see how the Trojans handle Bruce and the WSU DL after doing a nice job against Nebraska's solid front 4
  • The LBs are fine...solid, but nothing special. Same with the corners....Frampton is a very good safety.
  • Given the Trojans performance in the passing game and the injury to Jarrett (I think he plays), I think the Cougs will stack the line and dare Booty to beat them. This could get very interesting....I think Booty and the WR (and FRED DAVIS) will be up to the challenge. It could also set the scenario for some big runs, if the RBs can get into the secondary
  • It is easy to look at this game and say "Well the Cougs got rolled by Auburn and then beat up some patsies", but Pullman is tough and the Trojans are still a relatively inexperienced group. I like the Trojan advantage against the WSU offensive line...hard to get into a rhythm without protection, but I do think the Cougs will throw it deep and test the USC secondary
  • I think we will see Brittingham at fullback primarily, but would not be surprised to see some more H-back formations with Dale Thompson and Fred Davis. Such a bummer that Havilli got hurt...he looked great when he was in there
  • I look forward to watching the USC offense respond. I fully expect a huge game from Chauncey Washington...he has a lot to prove and does not want the starting position to slip away from him. I think the coaches use an injured Jarrett primarily as a decoy and I think the OL steps up to the challenge against the leading sack team in the nation

Its never easy to win conference road games (see last week) so let's hope the Trojans can grind out another tough win on the road.

Fight On!


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