The Cougars move on from a close loss to Auburn and now focus on 25th ranked USC for their game this weekend. USC has been on a carousel of ups and downs the past few years and Lane Kiffen is looking to turn it around. Fortunately for the Cougars, so is Mike Leach.
The Cougars haven’t played the Trojans since 2010 when they lost in a 50-16 blowout in Pullman. The Cougars also haven’t beaten the Trojans in over a decade when they beat them in 2002. Coming up with a win this weekend would be a big victory for WSU. One can only hope that this drought is way in the past and that the Mike Leach era can turn it around against the Trojans.
It was announced from sources close to USC early Tuesday afternoon that Cody Kessler will be the starting quarterback yet no word from the Trojans or Kiffen. Max Wittek was the other option for the Trojans, but look for both Wittek and Kessler to see the field on Saturday. Kessler went 10-19 for 95 yards throwing 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Wittek wen 5-10 throwing for 77 yards and no touchdowns. The Trojans totaled 364-yards on offense, with about half their yards coming running the ball.
Star WR Marqise Lee had 8 receptions for 104 yards. USC has always been a star-studded team and Lee is one of those players who has the possibility to have a break out game at any point in this season. As for the rest of the receiving crew for the Trojans they have 14 total receivers on their roster. Most of those receivers however are also young and not on the bigger end of the size spectrum. The USC receivers are about the same size as the Auburn receivers, only a little younger.
The offensive line for the Trojans is very big with most of the lineman being 6’5″, 275-lbs or bigger. With the size of the Cougars defensive line things should be about even in the trenches. The Trojans ran the ball a lot against Hawaii so the Cougar defense is going to have to step it up if they want to stop the run. The Cougar defense did impress a lot of people in their opener against the Tigers but will need to keep that up if they want a shot to win this game.
Ex-Penn State running back, Silas Redd who has missed a lot of time due to having surgery on his knee hopes to make a return this weekend against the Cougars. If Redd is unable to get on the field Saturday Sophomore Tre Madden will get the nod as the starting RB, Madden had 109 yards on 18 carries against the warriors.
The Trojans are a team that are used to scoring a lot of points, especially against the Cougars. With the recent struggles they have had I can’t see them putting up another 50+ point game.
The first thing that jumps off the page for me when looking at USC’s defense is the interceptions. The Trojans were able to rack up 4 interceptions against Hawaii, and we all know what has happened with turning the ball over for the Cougars. Connor Halliday threw 3 interceptions against the Tigers last weekend.
The Trojan defense is something that with the right plays can be exploited by Halliday. The corners are all around 6-feet which could allow the bigger Cougar receivers to go up and make some big catches.
The Trojan defense allowed just 16 completions on 41 attempts for 208-yards, on the ground the Trojans held Hawaii to 27 yards on 31 attempts. This stat is something that sticks out to me and scares me. The Cougars in the past were unable to run the ball and it will be a real test to see if they can have another 100+ yard game on the ground.
The defensive line for the Trojans is going to be another test for the young Cougar offensive line. The d-line stands at around 6’1″ and 250-pounds. The Cougar offensive line was able to protect Halliday and allow the running backs to do their thing against a very similar (in size) Tigers defense.
Outside linebacker Devon Kennard who missed last season due to an injury is definitely a player to watch. Kennard notched a sack, two tackles for a loss, three tackles, and broke up three passes against the Warriors.
Defensive ends George Uko and Leonard Williams are also players to watch. Both Williams and Uko each had 2 sacks. Williams had 5 solo tackles where Uko had 2.
The Trojans have been able to keep the Cougars scoring down to little to nothing, but this Trojan D has yet to play against a Mike Leach ran offense.