With this weekend's game against Arizona State we took some time out to have some Q&A with one of newer SBN Blogs House of Sparky...
1.The big question last season was how would the offensive line do at protecting Carpenter. We all saw how much that unit struggled against SC last year, how have they improved if not where are they deficient?
They are still very rough around the edges. Dennis Erickson tried rotating in new blood at right tackle for the Cal game, removing redshirt freshman Adam Tello who struggled against the blitz. It didn't help, and Rudy has been pressured consistently since the UNLV disaster. They need to improve their pickups. It is only natural for new O-linemen to find it difficult to gel against experienced front sevens, and USC has the best linemen and linebackers in the Pac-10. The complete lack of a run game is partially the O-line's fault, but I wouldn't rest it entirely on them; Dimitri Nance has been putrid and looks like he has been afraid of punching through holes when he has the chance.
The consensus might be wrong. We have seen a lot of plays where Carpenter just couldn't get through his progressions quickly enough, leaving receivers open long enough so that coverage could make plays on the balls he finally throws. A good example of this was last week's pass to Kyle Williams, where Rudy just took too long to see him, and was picked on a waffling throw. I haven't seen much "improvement" from his junior to his senior season, but he has always been gritty and motivational towards his teammates. With that said, he also motivates the other team to beat the tar out of him.
Danny Sullivan has a strong arm. He's a big guy, and he's not afraid of contact. But truth be told, no one really knows what he can do; we saw him tear up Texas during the 4th quarter of the Holiday Bowl last year, but lets be honest: that was not a sample you can rely on. I don't think anyone ever expected that he would be a starter in the Pac-10, but we're still interested in seeing how he differs from Rudy Carpenter. If he plays within himself and makes short, concise throws, we could be looking at an efficient passing game based on slant and out routes.
5. The USC offensive line is going to have to keep an eye on DL Lawrence Guy. He seems to be getting it done with a sack and six tackles who else on the defense should SC be worried about?
Well, to be frank, ASU's defense has been fairly mediocre this year. We lost Justin Tryon to the Redskins this year, and Omar Bolden has had to play #1 corner in his stead. Unfortunately it seems like he wasn't quite ready for that duty, and passing games have exploited our secondary's weaknesses. If I had to pick a player, I would say Dexter Davis. He is a bad man, makes quarterbacks pay when he can get past the O-line. Since USC doesn't have the best O-line at this point in time, they could be at a loss to stop Guy, Davis, and DE Luis Vazquez, who all love eating up the running lanes.
Best of luck to you, however.
You can find our answers to their questions here.