CC: What defensive player(s) should Trojans fans know about on this Oregon State team?
BTD: Manase Hungalu, the senior linebacker, is the leader of that group with 40 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception that he returned for a TD. Freshman safety David Morris is also coming along nicely and leading the team in tackles. Considering he is a safety, that doesn't exactly say great things about the defense as a whole, but he'll be one to watch for the next several years.
CC: Should we expect to see QB Jake Luton? If not, then who?
BTD: As one of or writers/twitter guy Travis Johannes put it, "some next level clipboard holding". Luton suffered a thoracic spine fracture two weeks ago against Wazzu and will likely be out for a while, probably the rest of the season. Darell Garretson has stepped into the starting role.
Garretson was 11/22 for 74 yards passing and had one rushing yard last week against UW. He's a little bit more of a running quarterback than Luton is. They might return to the read option a bit, as the did last year, when Garretson got quite a bit of time.
CC: What are some strengths and weakness that we should keep an eye on?
Strengths: Jordan Villamin and Noah Togiagi are playing well as receiving targets. Hopefully they can keep that kind of protection up. There's some strong young guys coming up through the defensive line as well, like Titus Failauga. The special teams are actually pretty solid as well.
Weaknesses: The offensive line is very young and lost three NFL players to the draft this year. The pass defense is also a weakness, which is particularly disappointing considering how much experience is in that group. And overall, the team is just really banged up, which is best exhibited by our starting QB who almost broke his back.
CC: What do you think the Beavers have to do to pull off the upset in Los Angeles?
BTD: The mistakes in the defensive secondary have to stop, first and foremost. Those mistakes especially can't happen when there's several good passing attacks in this league. Against UW, for example, they gave up 293 yards through the air and against Wazzu it was 431 yards. USC is another example of the kind of team that should be able to put up similar numbers.
The offense also just has to improve on overall execution, especially on third down. The Bears were just 2-13 on third down last week and only had eight first downs total.
CC: Ryan Nall was having an impressive season until last week against Washington. What went wrong? Will he bounce back and play this weekend?
BTD: Nall hurt his ankle in the UW game and Thomas Tyner took over most of the rushing production in that one. Overall, the run blocking does need to improve a bit, which will inevitably come with more experience for the offensive line. As far as Nall bouncing back this week, it may not even happen as that ankle injury I mentioned has him listed as doubtful on the official injury report. Hopefully it heals soon as he's far and away the most important piece of the offense right now.
CC: Your prediction for the game?
BTD: USC fans shouldn't have too much to worry about here. Oregon State has struggled this year against far worse offenses than that of the Trojans. A 42-14 USC win is my prediction.
Special thanks to Joe Londergan and BTD, check out the other half of this Q&A here. Tune into USCvsOSU game on Saturday 1 pm PT.