Pullman has been one of those places that has given SC fits. It a little bit like Autzen Stadium where the crowd is right up onto of the players so the noise level can get a little crazy. While I refuse to take ANY team lightly ever again the prevailing wisdom is that SC should have very little problem today with Washington State. But one can never be too sure...
Although USC coach Pete Carroll has made only a few trips to Washington State, he knows better than to discount a visit to the Palouse.
"There's always been a flair about their program," Carroll said.
Carroll remembers a thrilling 30-27 overtime loss to the Cougars in 2002 that effectively decided a Rose Bowl berth, as USC missed an extra point and field goal. And two years ago, the plucky Cougars were at the Trojans' 39-yard line before safety Taylor Mays intercepted a pass on the game's final play.
Today is not expected to be one of those games.
USC's penchant for struggling against huge underdogs might make the coaching staff nervous, but the Cougars are probably worse than the 42-point spread oddsmakers placed on this game.
"We learned our lesson hard against Stanford last year," offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. "You've got to perform."
It will be interesting to see if USC will do just that...perform.They have been bit before the question now is are they now snakebit?
With various players on the team nursing nagging injuries and with some players not even making the trip due to a nasty stomach virus that has been making the rounds around campus assume that if SC gets out to a quick lead look for Pete Carroll and his staff to start throwing the youngin's into the mix early and often.
Several key players are either nursing injuries or didn't make the trip because of illness, so the next generation of starters figures to play extensively against a struggling Cougars team that is a 42 1/2 -point underdog."There's been a different energy," Coach Pete Carroll said. "[Younger ] guys are coming up a lot to study film and they're dropping by the office to make sure they know their assignments and their stuff."So does freshman Tyron Smith, who is expected to play a significant number of snaps at left tackle. Starter Charles Brown could be rotating to the right side to spell junior Nick Howell, starting for the first time in place of Butch Lewis, who is ill.
Tailback Broderick Green, a redshirt freshman from Arkansas, did not make the travel roster for the Pacific 10 Conference opener at Oregon State three weeks ago. But since that defeat, junior Allen Bradford has been sidelined because of a season-ending hip injury and sophomore Joe McKnight suffered a toe injury that prevented him from practicing this week. So Green will be in the tailback rotation with sophomore C.J. Gable and junior Stafon Johnson.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Green does not anticipate a heavy workload at the outset, but by game's end he could amass more than the nine carries and 24 yards he has accrued during mop-up duty. "I'm ready," he said. "I want to help rather than just watch."
So, there is a lot of opportunity for the newer players to get some quality playing time and show us what they can do. This is a tremendous opportunity as it sets the team up for the future and it gives the coaches an opportunity to see what these player can do in a real game experience.
I think Sanchez will stay in longer than most other players in order to work the kinks out from his sub-par performance last week. He has had a full week of practice without any noticeable setbacks in regards to his injured left knee but with a couple of tough games comin up two out of the next three weeks Sanchez needs to get back to from like he was against UVA nad Ohio State.
One thing that th coaches should be on the look out for is if the team starts to look ahead to next week against Arizona in Tuscon. That game has circled by more than a few as one game that SC needs to be wary of. Arizona has a solid team this season even though their four wins have come have come against sub-.500 teams Arizona has potent offense that could give SC fiits if they aren't completely healthy...more on them next week.
Joe McKnight did make the trip to Pullman but his status is probably doubtful as he recovers from turf toe. I would prefer that McKnight doesn't play at all so that he can be somewhat ready to play against Arizona.
You never know about the weather up there in Pullman so with last weeks receivers having a case of the dropsies it will be interesting to see how they will adjust their game today.
These are some of the players to keep an on.
Broderick Green - As mentioned above he might not get a lot of playing time early but I would look for him get a lot of touches today. I really would like to see SC get back to a the "Thunder and Lightning" power running game and Green brings that type of talent to the table. This is the time for the coaches to let him loose to show us what he's got.
Tyron Smith - His development is key going forward at the critical left tackle spot he will get major work today. With major movement on the line this week due to illness look for Smith to get in early.
The Linebackers - Regardless if SC gets out to an early comfortable lead I would expect to see significant playing time for Chris Galippo, Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith. They may even be all on the field at the same time. That is key with all three starting linebackers graduating this season they are the future so the more playing time we can get them now the better.
DL's Armond Armstead and Jurrell Casey - These two have already turned some heads with their ability now they just need to hone those skills as the season goes forward that way they fully prepared to step in and be productive at a moments notice.
DB's T.J. Bryant and Drew McAllister - Bryant had a nice interception last week against ASU and McAllister will be thrust into a starting role next season when Kevin Ellison and possibly Taylor Mays going to the NFL.