Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Taking A Close Look at USC

USC is headed into Seattle this weekend and the Huskies hope to recover to put on a respectable showing against the top rated team in the country.

The Trojans haven't shown any weaknesses this season after dropping a couple of games last year. They are solid on both sides of the ball, and have blown out every opponent they have faced so far this season.

USC didn't really have to work up a sweat against Idaho, Nebraska, and Washington State, all three of those games were sewed up early in the first half.

Coach Pete Carroll (65- 12 in six years) led the USC Trojans (11- 2 overall, 7- 2 PAC-10) to a tie for first-place in the PAC-10 and to their 6th consecutive bowl appearance. This time they played Michigan in the Rose Bowl and beat them 32- 18. USC looks poised again to finish first in the conference and to compete for a top position at the end of the season.

The Trojans scored an average of 30.5 PPG last season, using the strong of arm of John David Booty (61.7% COMP, 3,347 YDs, 29 TDs, 9 INTs)—a potential Heisman Trophy candidate. Booty has a new coordinator, since Lane Kiffin left to coach the Oakland Raiders.

Steve Sarkisian, who is in his sixth year with the team and his first as coordinator, knows the club and Booty. Look for him to employ the shotgun, which Booty should utilize effectively. Booty has plenty of depth at receiver plus depth at RB with senior Chauncey Washington (157 CAR, 744 YDs, 4.7 AVG, 9 TDs) and talented sophomore C.J. Cable competing for the starting back spot. On the frontline, the Trojans return three starters and enough talent to fill out the line with quality play.

On defense, USC allowed a mere 15.2 PPG in 2006. The defense has 10 starters returning, which means they will be tougher and better than last season. Standouts include senior WLB Keith Rivers (85 tackles, 47 solo) and junior MLB Rey Maualuga (78 tackles, 45 solo). LB Brian Cushing was the defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl. Don't forget Seattle, and O'Dea HS product Taylor Mays who may be the teams most talented player. The frontline and secondary have talented starters and a lot of depth behind those guys.

Washington has a history of saving it's best games for the Trojans. Last year UW took them to the final seconds of the clock before losing the game. That however was a trend that happened to the Trojans in almost every game as they battled the inconsistencies of youth. This years edition seems a lot more consistent, and while they are still not up to the Bush, Leinhart, Williams, Jarrett level, they are starting to get close. LSU, and Florida may be the only teams in the country capable of playing with the Trojans this year.

For Washington to keep it respectable they need to eliminate mistakes, and find a running game to keep their defense off the field. Washington's 3 and out offensive performance in the first half wore out there defense for the second half, they need to find a way to control the ball to have a chance in this one.

Like last year when we played USC we have one equalizer, and that is Locker just like it was Stanback last season. Jake is the one player who can make a difference, and he needs to come out of the gate on fire to be able to slow down USC. Lappano needs to give him things he can get done. Count on SC to play man, and penetrate from the outside giving UW the middle of the field. UW needs to start taking advantage of that immediately.

Washington's defense is actually one of the better one's in the Pac Ten when they are not dog tired, and are prepared correctly. It is up to the coaching staff to correct the errors in preparation that have plauged the team the last two weeks. UW had a good game plan last year, and the Trojans haven't changed all that much except for being more experienced. If we can keep our defense fresh, and change up our schemes, we will do better this week with the help of the home crowd.

Can the Huskies win the game?

I think this team can compete with anyone if they play error free, block better, and correct the problems on special teams.

Jake Locker is extremely dangerous just like Stanback was last season, when he is on as we saw in the fourth quarter last week he can put points on the board. Our defense when rested and prepared can give us a shot to win as we saw in the first half of tOSU, and UCLA.

Turnovers of course are another great equalizer, and they can happen to any team, even USC. If UCLA, and Utah played ten times, UCLA would win nine of them. If USC can cough the ball up a number of times it would be a step in the right direction for an upset to happen.

USC on the other hand is a whole different kind of animal.

Even if the Huskies were coming into this game 4-0 I would think the chances of beating the Trojans would be minimal this season. They just have too much talent, depth, and experience. A good example of that depth is at the CB position. USC has lost both of it's starting CB's which would hurt a lot of teams. USC just reloads with another HS All American such as Shareece White. UW doesn't have a single player in it's secondary as talented as White, and he is second string at USC.

It is going to take a miracle for the Dawgs to win this Saturday, but miracles do happen if your opponent lets down, and makes mistakes. For Washington to win this game they are going to have to play one heck of a game, and win just about every phase. USC has to turn the ball over, and give the Husky offense a short field to work with. Husky Stadium is a very tough place to play for the Trojans, and crowd noise is always a factor.

The Huskies honor their 1960 National Champions on Saturday led by former head man Jim Owens. Hopefully the hoopla surrounding that event, and the throwback uniforms can put some fire in the Huskies belly. UW needs to come to this game with the same intensity, and toughness of that group led by Bob Schloredt, George Fleming, and Don McKeta. Hopefully Willingham will involve his team in pep talks before the game with those old Husky greats.

Emotion can be a powerful factor in a football game. The game starts at 5:00 PM Pacific allowing the fans to get properly juiced up for this contest. The ceremony honoring what is probably Washington's greatest team should go a long way in firing up the crowd for this one. Todd Marinovich once said, "All I Saw was Purple". UW has a chance to do that again on Saturday if all the pieces fall into place with execution.

Aftermath Notes

If you look at the film, and read Jake Locker's comments today you can find that the key to his early inaccuracy was his footwork. Happy feet kills QB's. Lappano wasn't doing him any favors when he sprinted him out one way and had to throw the other. That is a tough play for an NFL QB to make, and with UCLA's penetration it was ripe for interception. That is what happened and it cost us an uncontested seven points.

"We watched the film and my feet were in the wrong place a couple of times,'' he said. "I kind of got crazy with my feet, which I hadn't had a problem with the last couple of weeks. So it's something I need to focus on this week in practice.''

Another comment that came out was something I noticed early in the game but never came to life till the fourth quarter. It was throwing downfield, and throwing over the middle. One thing that really bugged me about the gameplan, and the lack of adjustments in the first half was that Washington wasn't taking what UCLA was giving them. UCLA was giving it to them because they knew by scouting UW they were hesitant to take it. You hope Lappano learns from it because USC is going to be doing the same thing, except it will be with better athletes.

Locker and receiver Anthony Russo each said one reason for the success was that the Huskies finally began throwing the ball downfield. Russo said receivers had been "bugging the coaches about it'' all game and that the plays were finally called in the fourth quarter with UW behind. Russo said that "hopefully the coaches open it (the playbook) up some more'' this week.

Everything you wanted to know about the University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (commonly referred to as USC, 'SC, Southern California, and incorrectly as Southern Cal, they hate that), located in the University Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, California and was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university.

USC men's and women's athletics have won 84 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships, third best in the nation, trailing only UCLA and Stanford. Note that the NCAA does not include football championships in its calculation. If it did, USC's 11 football championships would bring the total to 95. USC men's teams have combined for 86 national championships, the best in the nation. In addition, USC has 347 Individual NCAA Championships, best in the nation. The men's 296 Individual Championships are best in the nation and 50 ahead of second place Michigan.

The colors of USC are cardinal and gold, which were approved by USC's third president, Rev. George W. White, in 1895. In 1958 the shade of gold, which was originally more of an orange color, was changed to a more yellow shade. The letterman's awards were the first to make the change.

The Trojan Shrine, better known as "Tommy Trojan," is a bronze statue located at the center of campus, and an integral figure in school pride, embodying the values of a Trojan: Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous, and Ambitious.

Traveler, a majestic white horse, has been the USC mascot since 1961. Mounted by a rider dressed as a Trojan warrior, Traveler gallops around the field at every home football game whenever USC scores.

Prior to Traveler, making his first football game appearance in 1940, USC's mascot was a campus mutt called George Tirebiter that went around campus chasing cars. A statue was erected in his honor in 2006.

Spectators walking from campus to the Coliseum back-kick the base of one of the flag poles at the edge of campus on Exposition Boulevard to ensure good luck for the football team at their next game.

USC is also known for its marching band, known as The Spirit of Troy, which also calls itself "The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe". The band has been featured in at least 10 major movies and performed in the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Because of USC's proximity to Hollywood and being home to the top-ranked USC School of Cinematic Arts, the university has been used in thousands of movies, TV shows, commercials, and music videos. USC serves as a popular spot for filmmakers, standing in for numerous other universities, "playing" institutions such as Harvard and Oxford in movies and on television.

Famous USC alumni include OJ Simpson, Frank Gifford, Rickie Bell, Frank Gehry, Neil Armstrong, Marcus Allen, Mark McGwire, Tom Hicks, Sol Price, Charles Prince, Andrew Viterbi, Chris DeWolfe of Myspace fame, Jerry Buss, Frank McCourt Jr, James Horner, George Lucas, Will Ferrell, John Wayne, Warren Christopher, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, and former First Lady of the United States Patricia Nixon, just to name a few.


prrbrr said...

HIE, Pete has assembled a very fine collection of athletes. This year they don't appear to look past anyone, and seem hungry every game. It could be a very long long game. They remind me of the 91 uw team plus a few of the Texas Nebraska Okla teams in the 60s. Solid everywhere and at least 3 deep with 3rd teamers who would be starters anywhere else. I also like the fact they are blowing so many out early, that they are able to play everyone, I guess Pete has burned a few RShirts this year in garbage time, but it works for him with all that talent to get them needed seasoning and not jam up his roster so he can continue to offer 20- 25 schollies a year. Like you said, we have to play the game perfectly. I hope we can do it but a big blowout would not surprise me either.

Health Insurance Expert said...

If we eliminate mistakes, and they make mistakes we have chance to keep it respectable.

I have seen big upsets, and this would be one of the biggest, but after watching the performance last week, and knowing how much better USC is than tOSU, and UCLA, it is going to be very improbable.