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GameDay Open Thread USC vs. Washington

My apologies for not having a more detailed game preview to follow DC Trojans great work earlier in the week, work was crazy and the training I had to do wore me out.

I watched most of the Washington / ucla game last weekend so I came away with a lot as SC prepared for this game. Jake Locker is the real deal and the SC defense will have to keep an eye on him as he can get mobile but that's it.

The Huskies have a lot of the same problems that both Nebraska and Washington St. have, problems on defense. Washington had a great game against Syracuse, they beat Boise State and they were competitive against OSU for a half. Ty Willingham is doing his best to bring respectability back to Seattle when it comes to college football. But with that being said they still have a long way to go before they are once again power in the Pac-10.

Locker is explosive and there have already been some comparisons to Vince Young, he may have some young like moves. That sort of talk is a bit premature if you ask me but he is special nonetheless. The problem for Locker is that he really doesn't have any other weapons to help share the load, especially against this SC defense. SC will have to keep Locker contained and it won't be easy but SC solid and very mature front four will need to get a lot of penetration in order to keep Locker off balance.

It begins with the ends.

Top-ranked USC's plan to control Washington quarterback Jake Locker today at Husky Stadium involves every member of the defense, but ends Lawrence Jackson and Kyle Moore bear perhaps the greatest responsibility in terms of containment.

The powerful and fleet-footed Locker, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound redshirt freshman, is the Huskies' leading rusher. His scrambles and runs out of designed plays have drawn rave reviews from opposing coaches and players who project Locker as a future star in the mold of Vince Young.

"The whole offense revolves around the [quarterback] position," Moore said. "You could pretty much say it's like Vince."

Not so fast, cautions Jackson, while acknowledging Locker's speed and talent.

"He's too young to have the 'it' factor," Jackson said. "I mean, he's good but he's not in the same class as Vince Young. No offense to him, but no offense to Vince Young either."

I agree with LoJack, he is impressive but lets not go overboard. Moore and Jacksons success in containing Locker will go a long way to taking off the pressure from the linebackers as they shuffle positions with Brian Cushing still not available because of his ankle injury and Clay Matthews dealing with injuries of his own.

Safety Taylor Mays is also looking to have a big game today as he has a bit of a homecoming this week. Playing in front of the hometown crowd is always motivation but Mays needs to make sure that he doesn't get caught up in all f the nostalgia and overplay his position in trying to impress the hometown fans. A lot will fall on Mays as needs to direct traffic and make sure that new starter Shareece Wright settles into his new duties in place of the injured Cary Harris.

Last week I cautioned that SC needed to be careful of not going through a letdown. The same goes for this week as they haven't really played against a QB like locker this year and SC always seems to have one Pac 10 game on the road that they struggle through.

Every year an undefeated USC plays a road game it's expected to win comfortably, but nearly ruins the annual national championship aspirations.

Last year, Oregon State upset the Trojans 33-31 in Corvallis, Ore. Two years ago, Arizona State led trailed late in the fourth quarter before No. 1-ranked USC defeated the Sun Devils 38-28.

And in 2004, the top-ranked Trojans squeaked past mediocre Stanford 31-28 thanks to a zig-zagging punt return by Reggie Bush.

Today's game against Washington fits the profile perfectly for another one of those nail-biters, but can the Huskies deliver?

That's true, as SC has had some flat games on the road, but I think this SC team has a statement to send. I saw LSU struggle in the first half against Tulane before righting the ship. As I write this post Oklahoma is getting all it can handle against Colorado, Florida and Auburn play tonight and Cal and Oregon are smashing each other in the mouth tied 3-3. SC coming out strong and finishing strong goes a long way to keeping the confidence high as they move through what can be said by some as the easier part of the their schedule.

The weather will also play a role tonight, as there are some showers in the forecast. I would expect see SC keep it on the ground in order to protect the football but I also wouldn't be surprised to see Booty put it in the air if he gets the coverage he looking for.

Let me also take this opportunity to welcome the new Proprietors of the SBN Washington Huskies Blog - U-Dub Dish! It is good to have these guys up and running. Welcome!

Because of my schedule and because they are getting settled in to their new digs we didn't have a chance to do a pre-game roundtable with them. Regardless we hope to have a post game wrap with them next week and we look forward to reading their great work in the months to come.

Here is to an hard fought, injury free game...USC 35 Washington 17