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Q & A with House of Sparky

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.

2. I think the consensus is that Rudy Carpenter is the best QB in the Pac-10. Pete Carroll thinks Carpenter is well-equipped, that he's a good battler and that he makes things happen in short he is the total package. That being said every player has down sides, what are Carpenter's and how has he improved from last season?

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.

3. If Carpenter can't go on Saturday (I think he will play) then Danny Sullivan gets the call. Tell us a little bit about 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.

4. The running game doesn't seem to be as efficient or productive as last year what happened?

Keegan Herring has been hurt. His hamstring has a nuisance and has made his recovery slow going. Unfortunately, Dimitri Nance has played very poorly, and the O-line hasn't really opened up much in the way of running lanes against the solid competition we have faced. The running game works against lower-tier conference foes, but against Georgia? Not a prayer. We need to try new blood, and you will see Ryan Bass this weekend taking some handoffs from Danny Sullivan. That's a sight we thought would never happen..

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.

6. Care to make a prediction on the outcome?

No. I can't say I am optimistic to beat USC with a backup QB, no O-line and a run game from Pop Warner, but anything is possible: ASU played USC tough in the Coliseum in 2006, and we were a bad football team then. If the score is close with 5 minutes to go, I would give ASU the edge, but that's just me.

Best of luck to you, however.

You can find our answers to their questions here.