I am just going to throw out some observations about tonight's game. Too many have already over analyzed this match-up. These are just some things that I see.
I get the feeling that a lot of people are or will be picking Oregon to win in tonight's game at Autzen.
The tone of the articles I have read that have either criticized the defense or the coaching are setting an interesting tone. I think Oregon is fine team. They have got their heads on straight after that stinker of a loss against Boise St. Boise is a tough place to play and when you couple that with Oregon playing their first game with Chip Kelly as head coach you could see where there might have been some growing pains. seems to have got things tuned up pretty good.
A lot has been made of how Oregon has played since that loss.
So, lets take a not so scientific look...
I am going to throw out the ucla and WSU wins for the obvious reasons because those teams are just bad. Yes, they are wins but it almost seems that any local high school could play those teams competitively.
Oregon's win against UW is impressive and to the casual observer, one could (like that idiot Eddie George) point to the fact that the Duckies handled UW pretty easily while SC struggled against UW in their loss...that would be a mistake. Give SC Barkley and Mays, take away all the emotion of two former SC coaches facing their mentor, knowing all the teams weaknesses (read Aaron Corp) and that is a win. USC's loss to UW was because of two things emotion and an exposed USC QB.
Oregon dominated Cal...but so did USC, so that is a wash...
So looking at just how Oregon has played this season comes down to really just two games Utah and Purdue...
Lets take Utah first. From SBN's Mountain West Connection...
The run defense which was to be Utah's strength but in this game Oregon ran all over Utah. Oregon was lead by LaMichael James who had 152 yards, also QB Jeremiah Masoli made timely runs to keep drives going and happened to score two touchdowns. However Oregon was able to win by only completing four passes.
So, we know this Utah team is a shadow of the team that beat Alabama. But this shows that Oregon needs to run the ball to win. Masoli only completed FOUR passes in this game and the Ducks win by 7. I can assure you that USC run defense is much better than Utah's run defense. Masoli can run ball...so could Terrelle Pryor and the USC defense shut him down. Now, there will be those that will then point to Jake Locker in his win over USC...but the missing factor there was Taylor Mays. Regardless of all the criticism of his pass coverage skills as of late there is no denying his run defense skills. We all remember his stops of Jahvid Best and of Terrelle Pryor.
As for Purdue, the Duckies barely got past them at Autzen. Purdue's Defense is not as good as Utah's and the barely beat them...at home! The Oregon Defense bailed them out setting up 17 points off of turnovers. But the game also showed that the Oregon D line can be run on but I also know that Oregon D line has tightened things up a bit since that win.
Those two wins were early in the season so you know there were some adjustments to be made and it would appear that they have tightened things up.
Here is an interesting take from The Trojan Empire...
Anyone watching and reading about Oregon in the past week has surely seen the repetitive focus on the so called "high flying" Ducks offense. Truth be told, despite being ranked 16th in scoring, Oregon ranks 66th in total offense (368 ypg). In comparison, the Trojan offense, as conservative as it began the season, ranks 13th nationally at 440 yards per game. USC’s past opponents, Oregon State, Notre Dame, and Cal, have more productive offensive units.
The reason for the lagging production total is simple. The Ducks are 108th in the country passing the ball, which represents the lowest of all Trojans opponents so far this season. USC is most threatened by balanced attacks, so emphasizing the need to air it out is a definite key to Oregon success.
Another myth exposed is that Oregon lacks defensively. When the Trojans travel to Eugene tomorrow night, they will face the best defense since playing Ohio State in the second week of the season. The Ducks rank 19th in total defense, allowing season opponents fewer than 300 yards per outing. When you couple the defensive effort creating short fields, you come to understand their ranking in scoring offense without productive numbers. If there is a soft spot, it would be against the run, which could prove favorable for USC on an expected rainy field that would limit passing abilities.
That's a good take...SC has played in the rain before and has done fine like against Cal in 2007 and with the arrival of Allen Bradford on the scene coupled with Joe McKnight it will be an interesting battle. I also agree that a rainy forecast keeps the ball out of the air...maybe we see some throws underneath but I would not expect many deep balls thrown in the game.
My biggest area of concern for the USC defense is stopping Oregon TE Ed Dickson. He had a monster game against Cal and it made me take notice.
Dickson is the leading receiver in Oregon's run-first offense with 27 receptions for 362 yards. He has 23 catches for 304 yards and four touchdowns in his past four games, including an 11-reception, 148-yard, three-TD performance in Oregon's upset of then No. 6 Cal on Sept. 26.
"Ed Dickson really draws your focus," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "He's a great player. They've been going to him for years so he's going to be hard to stop anyway, so we're going to have to focus on him and try and keep him from being a big part of their offense."
The Trojans face Dickson a week after the USC defense gave up 127 yards on nine catches to Oregon State tight end Joe Halahuni in a 42-36 Trojans victory.
"Last week, we just kind of made a lot of mistakes," USC linebacker Chris Galippo said. "This guy is actually their go-to guy. You know they're going to see that film from last week.
"We exposed ourselves, obviously. We're scheming up for that. We've got stuff that's going to take care of that. It's really just trusting in the players who are going to be on him, and hopefully he won't be a factor."
SC got exposed last week against Oregon St. when they allowed the Beavers TE Joe Halahuni run wild underneath. I actually think that poor performance could not have come at a better time. It was clear last week that SC was overly focused on the run and they missed the open TE right in front of them. But now that they have had their scare they have seen the error of their ways so they should adjust accordingly. I would expect to see a balanced approached on Defense.
OK so lets quickly look at USC's offense...
Many Ducks fans think that Autzen is going to rattle Matt Barkley. Maybe...then again maybe not. Barkley has already stated that while he acknowledges the noise he doesn't see how it will affect his play on the field. He knows like the rest of us that when USC comes to town that is the other teams Super Bowl so they line up to take their best shot. The crowd gets a little louder, the opposing team gets up for the game a little more.
Barkley had a less than stellar performance last week against Oregon St....That is fine, he can't have a great game every week. Leinart and Sanchez didn't so why should we expect Barkley to. He still makes some freshman mistakes but some of those types of mistakes are made by 5th year seniors too.
Like I said earlier If the weather is a factor then I see SC trying to push their ground game. If not we will see USC attempt a more balanced attack.
This one is hard to pick. We all know what happened the last time SC played in Eugene but we also know what happened in 2005.
To me this almost a pick-em game. I do not see a blow out. this one will tight all night. It could be a barn burner as much as it can a low scoring affair.
I think SC has better over-all talent but the Duckies are not to be taken lightly and while I don't think Autzen will affect Barkley I do think Autzen will fire up the Ducks. We saw it when the Ducks demolished Cal and I do not expect anything less from their fans tonight.
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Here are some links....
Pac-10 Q&A: USC defensive coordinator Rocky Seto - College Football Nation - ESPN
Sports Radio Interviews - Pete Carroll and The Trojans Will Have Their Hands Full With Oregon This Weekend
USC hopes to mask Oregon's advantage: its rabid fans - LA Daily News
Damian Williams expected to play for Trojans -- latimes.com
Trojans missing some pass catchers - OCRegister.com
Leaving the USC football team in a sorry state -- latimes.com
Oregon-USC: Pac-10 showdown poses big recruiting opportunity, too | The Ducks Beat - OregonLive.com