Oregon St. Game Day Notes

Some are calling tonight's game a grudge match or a revenge game...

I do not see it that way at all. This is just another tough Pac-10 match-up. Oregon St. has proven to be a solid football program coached by one of the more underrated coaches in Mike Riley. Like USC sometimes does they get off to slow starts but always seem to finish strong.

It is not surprising that some feel that Oregon St. beating USC two out of the three previous seasons gives the Beavers some confidence. I can see where it would but those wins came in Corvallis not at the Coliseum. 

Jacquizz Rodgers realizes he will be a marked man Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The fourth-ranked Trojans have had more than a year to ponder a loss that ultimately kept them out of the BCS national championship game.

Whether last year's defeat provides added incentive for USC remains to be seen. It could work in OSU's favor, as well.

"It's confidence that USC can be beaten," said Jacquizz Rodgers, who is ninth in the nation in rushing. "We can't live off what we did last year, but it's possible that they can be beaten."

Last Year USC really didn't have any clue about Jacquizz Rodgers but they found out quickly about his abilities in that disaster in Corvallis. USC made some decent 2nd half adjustments that kept Rodgers to only 60 yards rushing in the second half. But SC was playing catch-up the whole game and they and you could tell they were just not their typical dominant selves.

Sure, OSU has some confidence because they have proven they can beat SC. But it isn't like The Beavers own us...especially not at the Coliseum. If I am OSU I would use those past wins as a road map as well but USC is mindful of their deficiencies from last year and USC will move the chess pieces on the board accordingly.

This is not a revenge game...at least not in the coaches' eyes.

Pete Carroll doesn't play it that way...

USC coach Pete Carroll didn't get frothy this week reminding his players what happened last year at Oregon State. He didn't rant and rave about how the Beavers took something from the Trojans and made them look bad on national television in a 27-21 defeat.

"We've never used that," Carroll said. "We don't use last year or the years before for anything. It's clear to our guys that this is the team that got us last year and all that. That's nothing new. That's just the facts. I'm not going to spend any time on it."

Just the facts: If USC had not lost last year at Oregon State, it would have played for the national title. And it almost certainly would have been favored to win Carroll's third championship.

The players on the other hand could be a little more focused...

SC has some things going for them in this game when it comes to the Beavers defense...

First, how will Oregon State's pass defense contain the rapidly improving Matt Barkley, who passed for 380 yards and two touchdowns at Notre Dame?

The Beavers rank ninth in the Pac-10 in pass defense -- though they are fourth in pass efficiency defense -- and have struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Their four sacks rank 116th in the nation.

All four starters in the secondary from last year were replaced as well as both defensive ends.

"I think the secondary may actually be the strength of their team," USC receiver Damian Williams said. "They run well. They play great press defense. Their coaches have a lot of confidence in them. They put them out there on an island and tell them to go to work."

I expect the Beavers secondary to up for this game but the rest of the information above is telling...

Barkley does not have to air it out, he can go underneath.

Here is little more.

The second issue for Oregon State is how its young offensive line will match up against a USC front that ranks No. 1 in the nation with 26 sacks and fourth in the nation in run defense (68 yards per game).

That line has surrendered 19 sacks, which ranks ninth in the conference.

That means Rodgers needs to make plays in the running game, because the Beavers probably can't win if they don't obtain a modicum of offensive balance.

As far as the passing game, this will be a big road test for Sean Canfield. The senior wasn't the quarterback of record in last year's game -- that belonged to now-backup Lyle Moevao -- and playing USC on the road obviously offers some unique challenges.

Yet Canfield, much like his ascending team, appears to be peaking at the right time.

It is a challenge but Canfield is playing some very solid football right now. SC got to Canfield in the 2007 game at the Coliseum, hitting him hard on one play by Will that ended up costing him the following season so he has some extra motivation to play out of his mind. This Beavers O line, while talented is not quite as good as last season but they will come to play. They will also see a very different defensive line from USC, with the different rotations that SC will throw at OSU. Seeing Griffen, Perry, Armstead and Casey coming your way could be very intimidating and it could make it a big challenge for the Beavers O line.

You can thank Jethro Franklin for that...

USC deployed 10 defensive linemen in its victory over the Fighting Irish, depth that enabled the Trojans to bring fresh pressure that resulted in five sacks.

USC enters today's game against Oregon State ranked first nationally in sacks and second in tackles for losses.

"In terms of production," Coach Pete Carroll said, "I'm surprised we're this far out there numbers-wise."

Trojans defensive linemen are not.

To a man, they credit Franklin, who is in his second tour of duty at USC.

In a program that preaches competition for playing time, the defensive line is the one position group that consistently rewards weekday effort on Saturday.

I think we are amazed at the production of the defensive line. These guys are monsters and if they can contain 'Quizz then it will be along night for the Beavers...but they HAVE to contain him.

I think SC linebackers will also "stay at home" and not overrun plays like we saw Rey do a few times last season. It hink that helps the D line do their thing. The secondary has some work to do as well when it comes to defending James Rodgers and Howard Croom...Rodgers has had a good season so far as well. Croom has put a target on his back with some comments he recently made.

Howard Croom, a tight end from Long Beach, Calif., thinks the Beavers get extra hyped to play USC. Maybe that's why he said the following to Trojan defensive end Everson Griffen.

"I was blocking him all night," Croom recalled. "Coach was on us last year about finishing through the whistle, don't stop even if they get mad. I kept blocking him real hard and he got mad. He was holding onto my arm when we were walking to the next play and I hit it down. He looked at me and said, 'You're terrible.'

"I said, 'Yeah, I'm terrible, nobody knows me and you're an All-American -- and I'm handling you right now.'"

Croom, who grew up a USC fan, said last year's win meant a little extra something for him and the other players from Southern California.

"We weren't good enough (for them)," Croom said, "but we were good enough on (Thursday night)."

Mike Riley can't be too happy if he saw that article...Don't think the players won't remember that passage...

Moving on.

I don't think this game is cake walk but I do think SC wins, but SC will not cover the spread. SC has to stay focused and not let the emotion of the game get to them like we saw last week in South Bend.

This should be an interesting one!

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