Tuesday, July 29, 2008

USC Preview

The Trojans finished last season at 11-2. The year was capped off by a blowout win against Illinois in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans lost a total of 10 players in the draft, but that’s nothing new for a team that has a B squad that could likely win 9-10 games a year. With 13 returning starters it will be interesting to see if Pete Carroll can take this team to yet another National Championship.

UW has been very competitive with these guys under Willingham, but while possible victory has been there, the more poised team has seized it in the fourth quarter. Carroll and the Trojans know how to finish, they win the fourth quarter, and they own November.

The biggest question on the offensive side of things is whether QB Mark Sanchez is going to be able to lead this team to another Pac 10 title, if not look for current backup Mitch Mustain to come in and get a shot.

The offense only brings back 4 starters, and only 1 on the offensive line. Guard Jeff Byers will see a whole new crowd of faces around him, but there is plenty of young talent ready to step up.

At wide receiver and running back there is a load of potential, and it just might be who emerges first this fall who gets the starting nod. It looks as though you will see another running back by committee attempt with Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight, and C.J. Gable.

McNight was a pretty high profile recruit that most expect to compete for a Heisman Trophy before he leaves. He didn't dominate last year, but not a lot of freshman do. He could come out and really do some nice things in 2008.

At the receiving end of things look for big years from returning starters Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton, but don’t be surprised if sophomore David Ausberry steals the show. One of the most interesting thing to watch this camp will be the WR's because there is so much depth and talent at the positions. Pete Carroll predicts a real fight for playing time among this talented group.

This defense could be scary good this season even with the loss of DT Sedrick Ellis and LB Keith Rivers in the first round of the draft. Though the line might not be what it was in ’07, senior DT Fili Moala is a beast up front.

Many believe they have the best starting LB’s and DB’s in the country. Rey Maualuga is being considered the best inside linebacker and they are saying Brian Cushing just might be the best OLB there is.

The safety combination of Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison is top notch, and don’t be surprised if they both don’t end up All-Americans this year.

If this team struggles a bit it might be at the corner spot opposite of Sr. Cary Harris and in the middle of the defensive line. On offense they need to stop the scoring decline, and that means they need better production running the ball. Sanchez is the starter at QB, but if he doesn't make the wheels turn Mustain will step up and get his shot.

How do you beat USC?

The USC offense has been in decline since the Reggie Bush years, and even though it was USC, that was a once in 20 year type of squad they put together back then. If you stay close as Washington has done you get a chance to beat them in the fourth quarter.

The key to beating these guys is being able to run the ball, take time off the clock, and keep it close. The Trojans don't score as many points as they used to, and as we saw with Stanford they can lose when they make mistakes.

What Do I Think?

After the last couple of years you would figure we are about due for a victory against these guys, but it won't happen in the Coliseum this season. USC has the ability to shut down the Washington offense, and they probably only need around 2o points to win the game. I think the USC defense will be dominating this year.

Washington and USC always keep it close, if you look at the history of the series you won't see too many blowouts on either side, this year will be no exception.

Once again I have to give the nod to the Trojans who should be able to shut down the Husky offense.

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