Two things stand out and concern me about tonight's game...
One, stopping 'Quizz Rodgers and two, the effectiveness of our running game.
Here is Monte's take...
"He hasn't played one down in the NFL but he moves just like (former Detroit Lions tailback) Barry Sanders," Kiffin said. "This guy makes cuts. I told the defense, `If you miss him, get up because he comes back around again."'
Nothing we haven't seen before. But we still have problems with defending against him.
'Quizz is a known entity with USC. He is a water bug running back who will streak right past a defender if they don't mind their assignments. He will be USC's #1 priority tonight...
USC's primary defensive goal Saturday at Oregon State is to contain star tailback Jacquizz Rodgers and put the game on sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz's shoulders.
"If we can shut down the run game and force them to beat us passing, as cliché as it sounds, it's what works," Trojans linebacker Chris Galippo said Thursday.USC hasn't controlled Rodgers in two previous meetings. He has 299 rushing yards, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt.
I chuckle when reading Galippo's quote about forcing them to beat us passing. I'd be careful there Chris, I mean our passing defense isn't exactly stellar! You can read a little more from Galippo here...
When 'Quizz's brother James is in the line-up it makes it more difficult to manage, they key off on one another nicely, just as you would expect brothers to do. But with James out for the year with a knee injury, the plan changes a bit. That doesn't mean that it will all of a sudden be easier or be a cake walk. OSU WR Markus Wheaton may be a capable replacement for James Rodgers but James really sells the offense well. He can block, run and catch. Either way, the defense still has their work cut out for them.
With the game in Corvallis and with the Beavers not having much to play for I would still not take them lightly. They love to tee off on USC in their home stadium. The crowd will be its usual nasty self.
As for the USC running game...
With Dillon Baxter not making the trip because of his contact with an alleged agent (I am still scratching my head about that one), Marc Tyler's health and Allen Bradford's problem with hanging onto the ball this puts a little more pressure on Matt Barkley who still has his own issues with the jitters.
Here is Bradford...(from ESPN-LA)
Matt Barkley simply has to settle down. Barkley has been in loud confines before The 'Shoe and Autzen so this should not be an issue, he should be able to deal with the noise and not get rattled. I expect a mistake here or a mistake there but he can't miss WIDE open receivers for sure scores. He can't the emotion and adrenalin of playing against a hostile crowd in Corvallis get the best of him. He should be over the hump on this as he gets ready to close out a full second season as USC's starting QB.
Former USC quarterbacks John David Booty and Mark Sanchez were doomed by interceptions and tipped passes in the Trojans' last two visits to Oregon State, so Matt Barkley will need to avoid mistakes that would allow the crowd to become a factor.
Yeap, he can't let the OSU faithful get a hold of the atmosphere more than they already will.
As I said earlier this week, USC can't get complacent after last weeks win in Tucson. This team can't act like they have arrived...there is still much to do.
But 'SC has some confidence especially when it comes to special teams.
Heading into Saturday's game at Oregon State, USC has blocked as many kicks in Baxter's first season as it did in the previous two seasons combined. How critical have those plays been? Well, consider this: Half of the Trojans' games have been decided by three or fewer points."Our style of play on Lane Kiffin's staff is, we are going to challenge for every point," Baxter said. "If there is an attempt at points, whether it's a pass to the end zone or a kick to the poles, we're going to challenge it.
Whatever it takes....
One little victory is all it takes to change the complexion of a game....and 'SC will need every break it can get,
Corvallis has not been a fun place to play of late and OSU coach Mike Riley always gets his guys up for this game.
Six years ago, the top-ranked Trojans literally played in a first-half fog before escaping with a victory.
In 2006, the Beavers knocked off third-ranked USC. And two years ago, Oregon State derailed the No. 1 Trojans' national-championship hopes by handing them their only defeat.
Oregon State was unranked in all of those games.
It's a similar story this time around: The Beavers are 4-5 and coming off a head-scratching Pacific 10 Conference home loss to Washington State.
"We're like in a freefall here," Riley said. "We've just got to fight our way out of it."
I will give Riley credit for having USC's number of late but lets not get carried away. Mike Riley has not been a world beater. Oregon St. has put some good streaks together but they have had some real stinkers too. Their loss to PSU two years ago was ugly, so much so that it actually gave PSU hope that because the Beavers beat USC they could do it too. We all know that worked out for them. Oregon St. is a bit of an enigma, they start off slow and then go on a run.
So much promise with little to show for it.
This season has been very different for Oregon St., especially with their ugly loss to Wazzu last week. This is not the same Mike Riley team like we have seen in the past. That being said, it would not surprise me if that ugly loss fired up the Beavers, so like I said 'SC has to play their best effort tonight.
- - -
Here are some links...