OPPONENT PREVIEW: USC Trojans

Record: 2-1 (0-1)

Head Coach: Pete Carroll

Offense: PPG: 29.0  YPP: 6.6

The 2009 Trojan offense looks a little different from years past.  Inexperience at quarterback has forced USC to rely on their stable of running backs and spectacular offensive line to move the ball.  While they haven't been the big play style we have come to expect out of this program, they have been very effective.

True freshman Matt Barkley started the first two games.  He performed well against San Jose State before struggling in the Horseshoe against Ohio State (15-32, 195 yards, 1 INT).  Aaron Corp stepped in against the University of Washington and solidified his backup role with a less than stellar performance.  Barkley has been named the starter for Saturday against Washington State.

Joe Mcknight leads a very talented stable of running backs.  Behind an all-world offensive line, the USC running attack is averaging a robust 6.0 yards per carry.  Backup running back Stafon Johnson has yet to rush for a loss in 27 attempts this season.  If USC is going to  make another push for an eighth consecutive Pac 10 title and BCS trip, the ground game will carry them there.

Defense: PPG: 11.3  YPP: 3.7

The USC defense is just flat-out dominant.  While the nation's elite have spent the first month of the season dining on funfetti with the rainbow chip frosting, the Trojans have went on the road to face two of the most talented quarterbacks in the country.  The defense performed spectacularly, giving up just 3.7 yards per play overall.  That is almost two full yards less than the 2008 national average.  These guys are fast, strong, and well-coached.  

Running the ball has been next to impossible against this unit.  Opposing teams are averaging just 1.6 yards per attempt.  Passing has also been difficult, as teams are averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt.  For reference, the Trojan defense is making the passing games led by Terrelle Pryor and Jake Locker resemble the vaunted Cougar passing attack.  

The Trojans are in trouble if:  They turn the ball over.  In their loss last week, USC turned the ball over three times inside the Washington 35.  That flipped what could have been a blowout in favor of the Trojans to a close win for the Huskies.  If USC takes care of the ball, they are talented enough on defense and in the ground game to overwhelm most of their opponents.

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