Keys to the Game: Washington State

Last weeks win against Arizona seemed to leave some pundits backpedaling in their enthusiasm for USC. As I have said before, we have grown accustomed to flashy and explosive wins and SC were the darlings of the Media last year. SC still has their supporters but it apparent that some aren't so sure.

This week's game against Washington St. will go a long way to quieting the critics down. Of course in the media's eyes that will only happen if SC wins in a blowout. It makes no matter to me, a win is a win and a blowout doesn't always answer the questions that you are looking to have answered. So this week we need to see some things in order for SC to start separating themselves from the pack.

The Offense:

JDB needs to open it up and find his receivers for the big play. The O line has been giving JDB time to make plays and JDB has shown his ability to find his receivers now he needs to put it up. With Jarrett out with a sprained shoulder Patrick Turner gets the nod in his place and Turner will play a big part in the offense. JDB hasn't really made too many mistakes. He had a couple of close calls against Nebraska and he did have 1 INT against Arizona but he has been patient as he continues to make plays. He needs to be a little more confident in his ability to get the ball downfield and trust the ability of his receivers to make some plays.


Time To Air It out!

The O Line needs to contain DE Mkristo Bruce and stop him from getting to Booty. As a unit they are really coming together and have done a great job at keeping the pressure off Booty. Bruce recorded 5 sacks last week against Stanford but that's Stanford. He may get some penetration but I'm confident that they can keep Bruce away from Booty.

The running game is starting to solidify itself with Moody and Washington starting to separate themselves from the rest of the group. Mike Brittingham at the fullback position will hopefully calm the jittery nerves of the coaching staff as the offense deals with the loss of one FB in the preseason and two other FB's in the last 3 games. The TE's will also take the pressure off, as Booty is sure to utilize them underneath to help open up the running game.

The Defense:

In short, keep the pressure up. The front 7 have been dominant up to this point. They need to continue to press and convert turnovers. They need to stop he run just like they did against Nebraska. They (WSU) have a variety of backs that they can use in different situations. Demaudry Woolridge is their bruiser, Darrell Hustona is their speedster who's got some moves and Dwight Tardy is their all-purpose back.  If SC contains the run early they will push QB Alex Brink into passing situations where he may force some plays that can lead to turnovers. If they can't get they running game going their play calling could go one dimensional which could turn into a long day for the WSU offense.

The Wash. St. O line has some injuries so they will have some new faces starting in this game. The experience and tenacity of our front 7 will absolutely give their O line all that they can handle. Brink will look to test our secondary especially Seattle native, freshman, Taylor Mays. Jason Hill looks to be Brinks' favorite target but by looking at his line from last week he threw to 7 different receivers so he is not afraid to spread it a round. Michael Bumpus is also another Brinks favorite. Brink was also prone to throwing a few INT's last year but it appears that he has been a little more patient with his choices as well as protecting the ball more.

Overall:

There are a lot of questions on how USC will respond this year with all the loss of talent that they had. So far SC has done well, even with that head scratcher of a game that they had against AZ and with all of the injuries that they have suffered SC just has a load of talent that they can tap into. They have owned the Pac 10 over the past few years and they have had their way WSU. The only recent blemish was their 2002 overtime loss up in Pullman. Win or lose SC has always seemed to struggle up in Pullman.

As with any of the games that SC will play this year our opponents will try to exploit our youth and perceived inexperience. The sluggish starts that we have had this year help to give our opponents hope and it could embolden them to play above themselves. Keeping it close only fuels their fire so SC needs to come out swinging. They have a big time game against Auburn under their belt and while it was a loss the Cougars were in that game right up to the 4th qtr. WSU feels that they can keep up with the big boys so to them going up against SC now is their game of the year.

I'm not into gambling but the current line is around +17, I'm not sold on that line. I think it's too high given SC's slow starts. Until SC establishes their running game and until the secondary is really tested I wouldn't take that bet. I think SC wins the game but I see it as a 10-14 point game.

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