October 31, 2008

USC vs. Washington Preview

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. PST
First Meeting: 1923 (UW 22 - USC 0 in Seattle, WA)
Last Meeting: 2007 (USC 27 - UW 24 in Seattle, WA)
All Time Series: (USC leads 48-26-4)

The seventh-ranked Trojans of USC (6-1, 4-1) still have title hopes alive in 2008. After starting the Pac-10 schedule with a loss at Oregon State (4-3, 3-1) they have rattled off four straight conference wins and will look to make it five against a winless Washington Huskies (0-7, 0-4). This is the first game the reeling Huskies since it was announced that head coach Tyrone Willingham will not be back in 2009. All eyes will be on the coliseum to see how his players respond.


Southern California

  • Play it safe on offense: The Trojans can open things up and go deep all they wish, just keep it conventional and within the system. Don't run the wildcat offense or any other gimmicky sets because USC simply doesn't need to. Establish the ground game, force Washington's secondary close to help the run, then hit the Huskies deep. This will help Mark Sanchez get comfortable, something he wasn't all game last week when USC was nearly upset by Arizona. Keep it simple, by the books, and nice and neat. If the Trojans do so and don't have mistakes they will win it big.

  • No mental mistakes: Last week the Trojans had two turnovers (1 fumble, 1 interception) and 10 penalties resulting in 68 lost yards. Those are the type of things that allow an inferior team to keep it close and when you keep it close you never know what can happen. .

  • Get emotional: No matter what fans may think about Willingham, his players love him. Actually the word love has been used by many of his players this week when the news came down that Willingham would not be back in 2009. Expect the Huskies to be emotional and you can guarantee the rallying cry this week will be 'win this one for Willingham.' The Trojans can't be flat and must find a way to get up against an opponent that is 0-7, no easy task.


  • Get emotional: There is no way around it, the gulf in talent between USC and UW is large. Washington will need to dig deep and play with emotion they have not yet found this season. That should be easier with the news this week that Willingham is gone after the season..

  • D Line continue to improve: Last week against Notre Dame there wasn't much positive to speak of. However, the defensive line finally got pressure on the opposing quarterback and held Jimmy Clausen to 53 percent completion. They have been slowly improving and that will need to continue if they plan on slowing down a USC offense loaded with talent. The Husky defense has shown flashes this season, but they will need to explode this week.

  • Give Fouch time: This one is the same as last week. Washington's offense line has allowed 19 sacks and they haven't gone against a defense like the Trojan's yet. It will be a safe bet that the Huskies could fall behind in this game and they will need to toss the ball around. No one can throw from their back!

USC Players To Watch

A note - I could put their entire defense on here and I almost did!

Mark Sanchez - QB - 1,717 yards and 20 touchdowns for the next great USC QB
Joe McKnight - RB - 361 yards rushing, 7.22 yards per carry average. 146 yards receiving and 1 TD.
Stafon Johnson - RB - 354 yards, 4 TD's, 5.4 yards per carry average.
C.J. Gable - RB - 302 yards, 4 TD's, and 5.6 yards per carry average.
Damian Williams - WR - 442 yards and 5 TD's.
Ronald Johnson - WR - 374 yards and 5 TD's.
Patrick Turner - WR - 333 yards and 5 TD's.
Jeff Byers - LG - Senior is teams emotional leader and started 12 games last season.
Kris O'Dowd - C - Might be the best on a very good group.
Brian Cushing - LB - 42 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks and he's one of the nations best.
Rey Maualuga - LB - He's a beast and has 41 tackles, 1.5 for loss and 1 interception.
Kaluka Maiava - LB - Rounds out the best linebacking crew in the country. He has 39 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
Kevin Ellison - S - 41 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception.
Taylor Mays - S - 33 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and is the most athletic player on the roster!
Everson Griffen - DE - 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss.
Clay Matthews - DE - 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss.
Fili Moala - DT - 20 tackles, 2 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss.
Kyle Moore - DE - 19 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss.


Pass Offense: 265.71 (No. 18) Rush Offense 190.86 (No. 25) Total Offense: 456.57 (No. 13)
Pass Defense: 129.57 (No. 2) Rush Defense 86.00 (No. 10) Total Defense: 215.57 (No. 1)

Pass Offense: 198.86 (No. 76) Rush Offense 92.14 (No. 112) Total Offense: 291.00 (No. 108)
Pass Defense: 244.00 (No. 96) Rush Defense 235.57 (No. 116) Total Defense: 479.57 (No. 116)

USC Player Stats
USC Team Stats
Washington Player Stats
Washington Player Stats
Pac-10 Team Comparison: Offense
Pac-10 Team Comparison: Defense


EDGE: Southern California
Sanchez struggled last week against Arizona and you can expect he and the nations No. 18 pass offense will come out firing this week. Washington has struggled no matter who has played, but injuries continue to haunt their secondary. Victor Aiyewa is injured again and Tripper Johnson will get another start. Washington's defensive line looked better last week rushing the passer, but that was against a below average Notre Dame offensive line. USC's offensive line is ranked No. 30 in the nation in sacks allowed and Washington is ranked dead last in the country at getting the quarterback. If USC runs well early, they will have open passing lanes all game long.

EDGE: Southern California
Washington's defense allowed a Notre Dame running game that had struggled all season to rip off 252 yards on the ground. Imagine what the three headed monster of McKnight, Stafon, and Gable will be able to do. The trio of Donald Butler, Mason Foster, Trenton Tuiasosopo is a solid group of linebackers, but the defensive line will need show up in a big way. That got harder with promising true freshman Senio Kelemete being sidelined with a knee injury he suffered last week in pre-game workouts.

EDGE: Southern California
Fouch is a solid quarterback, but he needs time to operate. Washington ranks No. 107 in the country in sacks allowed and that has made the redshirt freshman's job very hard. That job will get even harder when they try to slow down a USC pass rush that is one of the best in the country. Expect Matthews, Griffen, and Moore to be in Fouche's face all day long. When he does get time, Fouch will be staring down two of the better safeties in the land and a secondary that has nine interceptions this season.

EDGE: Southern California
If they haven't done it yet there is no reason to think they will start rushing the ball this week. Washington is ranked No. 112 in rushing and injuries have made things hard on the ground game. True freshman David Freeman is out for the game and another true freshman Terrance Dailey will get his second college start. Expect Willie Griffin to get a chance to prove he has solved his fumble problems. He's talented and could do some damage, but that will be a tough task going against the best linebacker crew in the country - Cushing, Maualuga, and Maiava. They also have another high NFL draft pick in the interior of their defensive line in Moala. Together they only allow 86 yards per game and that has been against some quality competition.

EDGE: Southern California
Maybe the one area of the team that isn't spectacular, but they are still better then UW this year. They average 19.91 on kickoff returns ranking then No. 92 and 9.53 yards on punt returns ranking them No. 59.

Washington ranks No. 116 and No. 105 respectfully.

USC's place kicker David Buehler has only attempted six field goals but he's made five of those. Punter Greg Woidneck is averaging 37.19 yards per punt.

Washington still shares the field goal duties with Ryan Perkins (1-3) handles the short kicks and Jared Ballman (2-5) takes the long kicks. Both have struggled. Ballman is also the punter and has averaged 37.49 yards per punt but has been very inconsistent.

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