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Washington Week: Defensive challenges

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I am not feeling the 11.5 point line that is currently set by the various books.

USC still has issues with mobile QB's and they are facing a face that they have seen before in Chris Polk.

Here is Kiffin's take on Polk...

"He’s big and physical, and he’s really good in the passing game too," now-Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said this week. "So he’s really kind of the complete package."

Polk's stat lines the last two seasons against USC include 235 yards from scrimmage and a TD. He's proven to provide a tough challenge for the Trojans' defense, perhaps the toughest challenge over the last couple of years outside of LaMichael James and Jacquizz Rodgers.

Polk Will be one of the better RB's USC will see this season.

The defense has done an OK job of stopping the run this season, but when you add the threat of UW QB Keith Price The defense has a little more work cut out for them and needs to be on its toes.

Part of shutting the UW Offense down has to come from the USC defensive line.

One thing that has concerned me is that the defensive line has not been as aggressive as many of us have seen in the past. Part of that is the high amount of holding we have seen against the line, particularly against Nick Perry, but it has also seemed that the D-Line just isn't getting the 'push' that we want to see.

Perry has had some decent production, but not like last season, when he is not being constantly held.

Kiffin thinks Perry has been close...

“I think Nick’s played really well,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “He’s been really close. There’s been a number of holding penalties where there would have been sacks, which is just as good. He’s making a lot of explosive plays, tackles for losses and dominating plays where guys are having to throw the ball early.”

Perry has five sacks through nine games, putting him on pace for about seven. Those five sacks do lead the team. So do Perry’s 8.5 tackles for losses. And his two forced fumbles. His 42 total tackles are 16 more than the next-best defensive lineman.

The junior from Detroit just hasn’t been the sack machine many of us (including Perry) expected him to be.

I would love for Perry to really break out on Saturday!

One other player that looks to have a big week is everybody's favorite Nickell Robey.

Robey will have a number of family members in the stands...But Saturday's game has very Special meaning.

Fired up to face Washington after last season's disappointing loss? Well, yes. But Saturday's game carries much deeper meaning for the sophomore from Frostproof, Fla.

Robey's mother, Maxine, was born Nov. 12, 1965. She died of a heart attack in February 2010. Several of Robey's family members are coming to town this weekend to watch him play and celebrate her birthday.

"It's going to be a special weekend for me and a special game," Robey said. "I'm going to play all out."

Robey thinks about Maxine every day, and he believes she'll be watching him Saturday. What was she like?

Kind of hits home for me, Robey's mom would have been just a year younger than me...I would hate for my kids to go through this time in their lives without me being there for them.

I don't know of a single USC fan that hasn't been on this kids side...He looked the adversity of losing his mother in the eye and would not be denied. 'SC is where he wanted to be and this program welcomed him with open arms.

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Other defensive notes...

Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard will play...

Outside linebackers Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard are both cleared for competition and will play Saturday against Washington.

Bailey, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago against Stanford, missed last Friday's game against Colorado while waiting to be cleared. Pullard played against the Buffaloes but injured his neck in the second half and sat out of Monday's practice with unexpected soreness.

It will be nice to have as many as we can for Staurday's match up.

J.R. Tavai is a pleasant surprise...

This is Monte Kiffin's 45th season coaching football at either the pro or collegiate ranks.

In that time, he's come across his fair share of both top prospects who don't live up to the hype and diamonds in the rough who exceed it.

Even so, though, a guy like J.R. Tavai gets him excited. Because Kiffin is well aware of how rare it is to find a complete unknown one year and have him playing meaningful snaps for you the next. It just doesn't happen very often.

Tavai will play an important role over the next couple of years as USC navigates through the scholarship reductions.

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Some other links...

Washington Thursday: Notes - USC Trojans

Trojans Spotlight: USC vs. Washington - ESPN Los Angeles

Marc Tyler returns, but Curtis McNeal to start at running back for the USC Trojans - ESPN Los Angeles
Marc Tyler is back in the fold and George Farmer will likely suit up as well, but Curtis McNeal is going to get the start for USC at running back for the second straight week.

Comparing UW's and USC's conference-only stats | Seattle Times Newspaper
Condotta breaks down the respective teams performance in the Pac-12.

Freshman Farmer prefers to play receiver - LA Daily News
Is anyone NOT surprised by this?

Preview: Washington at USC « The Trojan Empire

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