It is hard to say just how much USC will open up the playbook if Matt Barkley isn't able to chuck the ball down field. Clearly USC's problems on offense last weekend against UW made a lot of people take notice and scratch their heads.
Today's game against Washington St. is the perfect medicine to try and get things back on track. But lets be honest here...The spread is 45+ plus points, WSU is still rebuilding even though they had an inspiring win last weekend. USC will not cover the spread but they don't have to. SC just needs to have a solid game tonight. They need to protect Matt Barkley, they need to protect the ball and they need to get the bad taste of last weeks loss out of their mouth. We have been down this road before...there is no difference between last week, OSU in 2008 and 'furd in 2007.
SC just needs to get back on their horse and ride...
So, lets start with some news about the defense specifically Taylor Mays. It was announced earlier this week that Mays would start this weekend.
[a] day after announcing that Barkley would start Saturday night against Washington State despite a sore shoulder, Coach Pete Carroll on Thursday made a similar call regarding Mays, who is recovering from a knee sprain.
"He's ready to go," Carroll said.
Mays, though, said it was "50-50," and that it might be a game-time decision.
"I think I'm going to play unless something goes wrong," he said.
Just another day with the 12th-ranked Trojans, who are trying to rebound from last week's 16-13 upset loss at Washington and the free-fall in the polls that followed.
Neither Barkley nor Mays played in the defeat at Seattle because of injuries suffered in USC's Sept. 12 victory at Ohio State.
Mays, wearing a brace on his right knee, participated in most drills Thursday after sitting out early in the week.
"I don't feel rusty at all," he said. "I actually feel good, feel refreshed. Like I had a bye week."
Of course there were some questioning this move because they thought Mays should sit out another week to get ready for Cal because they expect an easy win against WSU.
Again, I am not going to question the moves of the coaching staff...they have far more information and insight that any of us do. Mays at 50-50 is better than no Mays at all. Not having him on the field last week, especially on that last UW drive was telling as some of the new faces in the secondary who have moved up the depth chart are still feeling their way through.
The linebackers will see Jordan Campbell get his first start replacing the injured Malcom Smith...
Campbell, a third-year sophomore, said this week that he worked diligently to harness his desire to freelance on the field, a flaw that prevented coaches from trusting him to carry out assignments.
"When I first came in to USC, I'd see the ball and just want to go fly and make the play," he said. "You have to realize, at the end of the day, that you have to fall back sometimes.
"I learned to slow down."
Shane Horton will back up Campbell at the weakside spot.
Luthur Brown did not practice because of back soreness, and his status for Saturday's game is questionable, Carroll said.
Uh...Brown needs to sit for a bit after celebrating last weekend in the face of defeat. Spicer too. I just wanted to throw that in there.
Nick Perry who has been an absolute monster out there will start tonight. Perry is tied for the lead in sacks in the Pac-10 and is 7th nationally. That is impressive for a redshirt freshman!
I really can't complain about the defense. They have some injury issues in the secondary but the front seven has really played lights out. They got us into position to win in Columbus and they were asked to keep us in the game time and again in Seattle. Sure they were not able to stop that lst drive but you expect them to make every play.
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As for the offense...
If Barkley is able to get the ball down the field look for a couple of new targets for him to throw to.
One is freshman wide receiver De'Von Flournoy...
De’Von Flournoy flashed big-time playmaking ability during training camp. Play-caller Jeremy Bates liked what he saw of Flournoy this week.
"He’s had a real good week," Bates said. "He had great one-on-ones (Tuesday), and he’s out there with the ones running some routes. We’re looking forward to getting him in."
Coach Pete Carroll recognizes Flournoy’s talent but still isn’t sure he knows the offense well enough to be a major contributor at this point. It isn’t for lack of trying, on both ends.
"We are really forcing it down his throat almost with everything that we can throw at him to get him ready and try to find a role that he can fit," Carroll said. "He’s a playmaker. We can already sense that in the work that he has given us. He’s just a long way behind, and he’s unsure of himself. You can’t play fast if you are unsure of yourself.
"The coaches are feeling better about him, and he has been studying like crazy. He stays out here late and all that stuff.
USC needs a deep speed threat with RoJo out. Ausberry is not the answer and it looks like that Travon Patterson is never going to see the field at this point in any significant capacity.
Another weapon we might see tonight is Cameron Jordan...
junior wide receiver Jordan Cameron (Newbury Park High) met with USC coach Pete Carroll this week to discuss his shrinking role with the Trojans. Cameron contended for the No. 3 wide receiver spot in training camp but did not even make the travel squad for last week's game at Washington.
"He's been quiet," Carroll said. "He's working hard and all. I said something in our staff meeting about him. We haven't dug very deep in our ranks."
Cameron said he was pleased with the meeting.
"(Carroll) said I'm close to getting on the field but I need to show more, make the right reads and block the right people," Cameron said.
"That's what he said and I have to believe him. He said every receiver should be talking to him because our passing game is not balanced with our running game."
We'll see...if Barkley can't throw it down field with any significant results it won't matter. Heck, I could suit up and be just a effective.
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Gary Klein points out seven issues surrounding USC right now...
The Trojans, as they always do after stumbling against previously unranked conference opponents, are expected to rebound tonight with a victory over Washington State, a 45 1/2 -point underdog at the Coliseum.
Beyond that, the only thing that can be said with certainty about the Trojans is this: They have issues.
At least seven of them.
They might not show up against the undermanned Cougars, but they must be resolved before the Trojans head off to play October road games at California, Notre Dame and Oregon -- before this turns into possibly the worst season under Pete Carroll since the Trojans' 6-6 finish in 2001.
Not that USC's players, accustomed to 11- and 12-win seasons, can fathom that scenario.
Winning will cure some of these as it will build confidence..I am not really going to belabor the points that Klein points out.
The more important thing I need to see is how SC comes out after last weekends loss. Unfortunately they have been down this road before...
Any way we will see how it goes!
Here are some links...
Brad Budde: USC Offense Needs Identity –
USC freshman transitions with playing career cut short - Rivals.com
Great article on Frankie!!
The Skinny: Efficiency and Improved Passing Game Key vs. Cougars - TrojanWire
USC Trojans can't afford loses as long as Pac-10 prejudice exists - George Schroeder - SI.com
I may look at this a little more later
I will have more later and a game thread up this evening...