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What To Watch For: USC Edition

You know the drill. Below are a few storylines to keep an eye on. Just like last week, this will be your ESPN College Gameday thread and a place to discuss the morning games.

  • Can the offense get in gear? Jeff noted the offense has been "sputtering" over the first quarter of the season. We know the strengths of the unit and we've seen USC get torched by Hawai'i. Will the offense get the ball out wide and use playmakers like Marquess Wilson? Will the Cougs continue to run into a brick wall by establishing the run? We should find out more today.
  • How much has Jeff Tuel progressed? Tuel gets a shot at a pro-style defensive scheme in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2. Again, we saw what Hawai'i's quarterback did at the line of scrimmage in the opener. If the offense is going to click, Tuel has to make his pre-snap reads and make adjustments. Linebackers playing way off? Gash them with a run up the middle. The Cougs know what they'll see tomorrow. It's up to Tuel to recognize the coverage and find the holes in the Tampa 2. There are holes to be found.
  • Can the defense stop the run? USC averages 5.6 yards per carry. If the defense is going to hold up, they must stop the run. Against SMU and MSU -- well one quarter of SMU -- the defense dialed up the pressure and got after the quarterback. Today, they must be disciplined and control gaps. Run blitzes should help, but the Cougs need to make tackles again. In Dillon Baxter, C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford and Marc Tyler, USC has a four-headed running back that should keep Chris Ball awake at night. Stop the run and pray the pass defense holds up.
  • Can the Cougs string together games? After a rough start at Oklahoma State and three quarters of near futility against MSU, the Cougs seem to have pulled it together lately. A rough third quarter doomed them at SMU, but they played sound football during the first half. Was that because SMU wasn't as good as we thought, or because WSU was improved? One thing is for sure, USC has elite-talent. How the Cougs stack up against the Trojans say a lot about where WSU is in their development
Ol' Crimson takes to the skies of Boise this morning and there's plenty of early action. Game time is at noon, so get yourselves ready.