Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Trojans in Lincoln

USC Trojans vs Nebraska Cornhuskers old school battle between two programs with too many National Championships and Heisman Trophies between them to count. What a great match up early in the college football season. Strangely enough, I have been to Lincoln twice this year on business and WOW are the people in Nebraska fired up for this game. Everywhere the Trojans go, "it is the biggest game since [fill in the blank]", but it is one thing to have that reaction in Pulman, Corvalis and is a whole new thing to have that in Lincoln. It is going to be an electric environment in Lincoln this weekend...I can't wait to see it.
General Thoughts on the Game

  • Nebraska is a very solid team that is capable of beating the Trojans...particularly in Lincoln
  • I think the Huskers pull out all the stops to win this Notre Dame in 2005
  • Many (most) of the players on this USC team have ventured into hostile territory in their career...the trip to Arkansas last year was great experience to prepare for the environment the Trojans will face Saturday night
  • One big exception to this is Kris O'Dowd..the true frosh starting center for the Trojans. If #61 can play tough with limited mistakes it will go along way in this game
  • Lets hope Cushing, Turner and Washington are healthy for this game. I feel pretty good about Patrick right now, but have this bad feeling that Cushing will be less than 100%. I hope I am wrong about that...practice today (Wednesday) should be telling
  • I feel terrible for Josh Pinkard. The kid tears his right ACL first game last year and then tears his left ACL this year. One of the best players on this team...tough kid. Fight On Josh...we want to see you on the field next year!

USC Offense vs Nebraska Defense

  • USC had modest success last year against Nebraska on offense, racking up 400yds and 28 points. The Trojans averaged 4.6 yards per carry and gave up 1 sack. Booty was 25-36 for 257 yds and 3td
  • Nebraska had a great DL last year...all 4 are gone this year including NFL draft picks Adam Carriker and Jay Moore
  • I like the matchup of the Trojan OL vs the Husker DL. If USC can capitalize here and set up the run game, it will be a significant factor in the game
  • Given the situation, look for Drew Radovich to regain his starting spot at RT over Charles Brown. Radovich is a veteran and started all 13 games last year (at right guard)...he is more accustomed to this type of environment. Brown will play extensively, but I bet the coaches want Rado in there the first series or two
  • The play of Kris O'Dowd will be critical. If he can hold his own, I am optimistic about the OL in this game. Kris is a very tough, competitive kid...exactly the type of player Trojan fans want on the OL. I think Kris will do just fine
  • Nebraska gave up 236yds rushing to Wake Forrest last week (4.6yds/carry)...this is after Wake gained 2 yards rushing (not a typo) against BC the week before
  • Wake was very successful with the WR end around play. Look for SC to explore this with Ronald Johnson as well as with Joe McKnight. I think we will see swing passes to McKnight with him in motion as well
  • I think Chauncey, Gable and Stafon split the carries this week. Last year, Moody got the bulk of the carries and did some damage
  • Much of Nebraska's back 7 returns. They have a new JC corner that is starting. Last year, USC's WR seemed to have their way with Nebraska's corners. With Jarrett and Smith in the NFL, things won't be so easy this year
  • Our WR are inexperienced, but I don't think Nebraska has the personnel to play tough bump and run like Arkansas did last year. I am optimistic about WR play
  • Vidal Hazelton really took a step forward last week. I think the combination of Turner, Oz and Vidal is pretty solid
  • Turner caught a big TD pass against Arkansas last year when the game was still doubt. This kid can play and has stepped in the past
    Watch Turner Touchdown
  • I think USC will try and establish the running game early and use the WR pass to the flats (Ausberry and Turner) to get Booty in rhythm
  • I expect USC to use Stanley Havili and Fred Davis extensively in this game to test the speed of the Nebraska LB as well as to loosen up the running game

USC Defense vs Nebraska Offense

  • Last year Nebraska played very conservatively on offense...garnering only 211 total yards and 10 points
  • At home Nebraska will be much more aggressive. This game means everything to the Huskers and their fans. I expect a few trick plays as well
  • The strength of Nebraska's offense is their OL. Talented and experienced group
  • Nebraska just ran wild on Nevada, but the running game was slowed down by Wake. The Huskers gained 115 yards on 34 carries. Wake is solid against the run this year, holding BC to 54 yds as well.
  • I think USC's run defense is closer to Wake's than Nevada's
  • USC has been vulnerable to misdirection and cut back runs...this is not a key part of Nebraska's attack, but they may unveil it this week
  • USC's DL is very experienced and I expect it to hold up OK against the run...SC will force Nebraska to beat the Trojans through the air
  • That brings us to the Nebraska QB...a familiar face in Sam Keller. Keller was the starting QB for ASU in 2005. He led the Sun Devils to a 21-3 lead against the Trojans, but threw 4 second half interceptions as the Trojans won 38-28
  • Keller is a talented player...very confident and aggressive. This leads to some big plays and sometimes big mistakes
  • Keller had 2 interceptions and a fumble against Wake...I would expect him to play much better this week. However, if Keller gets pressured and tries to do too much, USC may be able to capitalize
  • I think USC will open up in a soft cover 2, allowing the underneath pass. I would expect the Trojans to move into a more aggressive scheme in the second half. I think Pete wants to prevent the big play early and force Keller to be patient and accurate
  • With Cushing hurting, expect to see Clay Mathews a lot in this game
  • Lets hope the Trojan defensive ends will do a better job on containment this week...if not, look for a steady stream of roll outs and bootlegs
  • This is a big stage for this very hyped defense to prove itself...let's hope they step up. I think they will

Other Thoughts around the Pac 10

  • Injuries are taking their toll on the Bruins. They should cruise past Utah, but a big game with UW looms next week. Without Harwell (and Dragovic for now) this is a totally different defense. Olsen looks much better and Bell has been a nice surprise at RB
  • Speaking of UW, they look much better than I anticipated. Great for the Pac when the Huskies are good. Would be great to see them beat the Buckeyes this Saturday
  • Cal is scary good on offense, but their defense is soft...even softer than I thought
  • Overall, this is the most competitive the conference has been in several years. USC, UCLA, Oregon, Cal, ASU and Washington all look very solid. Oregon St is very talented, but lack of a playmaker at QB may hold them back

I am off to Lincoln to watch the Trojans. Hope to see you there! Let's hope the Trojans can grind out a tough win on the road.

Fight On!


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