I said the other day that it would be a mistake to over look SJSU and towards Columbus. Dick Tomey is a very good defensive coach and he has some pretty good players on his defense. He also sent 3 players to the NFL last season.
You also might remember that Tomey was the coach of the "Arizona Desert Swarm" defense of the 90's...
Despite the talent gap between the fourth-ranked Trojans and the Spartans -- a middle-of-the-pack team from the Western Athletic Conference -- Tomey's scheming could spell trouble for the first true freshman quarterback in USC history to start an opener.
A freshman who had 18 passes intercepted against high school defenses last fall.
While Barkley was making those mistakes at Santa Ana Mater Dei, San Jose State ranked 10th nationally against the pass and 11th in sacks.
Call it the "Silicon Valley Stampede."
The Spartans lost two cornerbacks and a defensive lineman to the NFL during the off-season, but their modified 4-2-5 formation has seven returning starters, including a strong pair of linebackers and the Ihenacho brothers of Carson.
Carl, at defensive end, led the nation in tackles for loss before injuring his thumb. Duke, at safety, led the WAC with five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
"They pressure well and they cover with a variety of things they do," USC Coach Pete Carroll said. "It will be as complex a defensive system as we'll go against all year."
The emphasis on pass rush is reminiscent of Tomey's days as coach in Tucson, where the double-eagle flex defense favored a small, quick attack.
No question that was a great defense but that is with a different caliber of players than what Tome is working with today and that also doesn't mean that SJSU can't be dangerous.
With Kristofer O'Dowd out for Saturdays game things will change on the offensive line. Yes, USC still has some superior talent on offense but I really think Tomey is going to throw the kitchen sink at Barkley. It would not surprise me if Pete Carroll schemed to have Barkley hand the ball off for most of the game or throw short, quick dump off passes for chunks of yardage but if Barkley is on the run the question will be if he has the patience to make the right play instead of trying to make chicken soup out of you know what.
As usual the key will be offensive line. If the O line can blow some holes open for McKnight, who was named the starter for Saturday's game, then that will go a long way to calming everyone's nerves as to how the offense will work with Barkley at the helm.
I do expect Pete Carroll to let Barkley throw the ball and I don't expect the coaching staff to over compensate for Barkley's "lack of experience" but I also think that Pete Carroll will load up on the run especially in the first half just to let Barkley get a feel of this new level of competition. It is agambel no question but we have put our trust in Pete Carroll before so I see no reason to not do that now.
Tomey has some other issues to deal with as well...
If San Jose State coach Dick Tomey has settled on his starting quarterback for Saturday's season opener at No. 4 USC, he's not telling. "It doesn't serve us well to do that," he explained Monday.
When Tomey plans to tell his quarterbacks who's starting is unclear, as well.
Kyle Reed and Jordan La Secla probably will be told before they board the team bus early Friday morning, but Tomey made no guarantees.
Nor would he say when the backup would play.
Or how long the backup would play.
Or whether the backup would enter the game at a predetermined point, regardless of the starter's performance.
"Somebody's going to run out there (as the starter), but that doesn't mean much," Tomey said. "The job will be won in competition. By the time we get into conference play (on Oct. 10), we want to have a No. 1 quarterback."
I am not sure that this is not any sort of gamesmanship to try and throw SC off but Tomey does need to make the choice that gives him the best chance to win. Of course SC has trouble with no-name QB's in the past...see Stanford circa 2007. Whomever Tomey picks, his QB is going to see one fast defense...
Wilner thinks it will be SC by three touch-downs...
Sept. 5: at USC
Analysis: With true freshman Matt Barkley starting at quarterback, I expect the Trojans’ offense to sputter early and for SJSU to stay in the game for at least the first half. But SJSU won’t do much offensively and eventually USC’s running game will take control, leading to a three- or four-touchdown victory. (For SJSU, it’ll be a lot like the Nebraska game.)
I expect SC to win this game...by how much is another matter. It is all going to hinge on how well Barkley performs in the first half. The running game is going to be key and Barkley is going to have have some self control...
It is almost time!!