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We've Seen this Movie Before

We've seen this Movie Before

When USC takes the field against Illinois in the Rose Bowl they will be facing another mobile QB in Isaiah "Juice" Williams.


Since Carroll's arrival at USC in 2001, several runner-passer threats have foiled the Trojans for part or all of a game.

Kansas State's Ell Roberson beat USC twice. Virginia Tech's Bryan Randall gave the Trojans fits early on. And Texas' Vince Young -- the ultimate He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named quarterback in Trojans lore -- was unstoppable in one of the greatest performances in college football history.

This season, Washington's Jake Locker nearly engineered a victory over the Trojans. Oregon's Dennis Dixon completed the task.

Enter Williams, a 6-foot-2, 223-pound sophomore who has rushed for nearly 800 yards and seven touchdowns and passed for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns.

SC has had problems with mobile QB's in the past in the likes of Vince Young and Dennis Dixon. The way the defense has played with a bend don't break kind of approach tends to give up short yardage so the key is one of containment. SC's strategy is simple and they have used it before hit him and hit him again.

SC has handled this type of QB before like in 2004 against VA. Tech, so while Williams will get his yardage, the key for USC will be taking away the big play. Williams had the hot hand at the end of the season including Illinois win against #1 Ohio State but Williams also had his struggles early on so if he expects to win he is going to have to play a perfect game. A lot has been made of both Vince Young and Dennis Dixon's performances against USC but it isn't just about those individual performances as other factors came into play in both of those games. It is easy to point to the fact that SC has had problems with these types of QB's in the past but Williams is no Young or Dixon and he hasn't seen a defense like this before.

At some point during the Rose Bowl game, Juice Williams might glance across the line of scrimmage and spot a linebacker inching closer. Maybe a cornerback threatening to blitz.

The young Illinois quarterback knows the troubles that USC's defense can cause.

"It's going to play with your mind," he said.

That's not so good for a sophomore who has struggled at times this season, battling inexperience and inconsistency, turnovers and, most of all, self-doubts.

Throwing the ball is another story and it has been a bit of a concern with Williams as he was inconsistent in the early part of the season.

Throwing the ball was another story. Williams passed for 1,498 yards and 13 touchdowns but had 10 interceptions and, in terms of yards per game, did not even rank among the top 10 quarterbacks in the Big Ten.

It wasn't until late in the season -- 207 passing yards against Minnesota, 220 versus Northwestern -- that he began to show potential through the air.

"The biggest thing we stressed was having confidence," Locksley said. "Confidence has been an issue for him."

Again there is no question that he has some talent but I'm not going to get too worked up over strong passing performances against the bottom feeders in the Big 10.

I am not one of those that think this game will be a cakewalk as Williams is the type of athlete that can give us fits and he has shown some moxy as he has matured into his role. So, SC is going to have to take the same approach as they have with other mobile QB's and do their best to contain him and make him think twice about tying to run for it.

The kid has overcome a lot in his life and he has started to put it together this season but this is a different situation against a team he has never seen before so it is hard to know how he will respond.