As promised, here is a set of questions about tomorrow’s game against USC answered by Michael Castillo, the editor at Reign of Troy, a terrific Fansided site covering the Trojans.
1.) Who is the most valuable Trojan on defense this season?
It’s hard to give an MVP tag to anyone, as there isn’t necessarily one guy who stands out for SC this year. That said, it’s probably Morgan Breslin. He’s a JuCo transfer who had really cemented himself as a bonafide upper-echelon pass rusher when the Trojans have had to tackle depth issues on the defensive line. He’s made the loss of Devon Kennard at defensive end pretty much mum this far into the season, and that really says a lot about how good Breslin has been.
2.) Do you think that USC is capable of defeating Oregon this year? Notre Dame?
Football is a game of match-ups and the Trojans match-up very well with Oregon. We saw it last year when the Ducks were held in check for three quarters against SC, that Monte Kiffin has built his defense with the mentality of stopping the spread. He’s moved safeties to linebacker and has gone with a smaller, faster defense aimed at containing the width of teams like Oregon. Because of that, and with the game being at the Coliseum, I think the Trojans have a very strong chance at knocking off the Ducks, if ASU doesn’t do it first (Thursday nights on the road haven’t been kind to high ranking Pac-12 teams). As for Notre Dame, they fit that Stanford style that seems to be USC’s new kryptonite. The Trojans are bigger, faster, stronger, but Brian Kelly has his team playing such smart and sound football right now that I think it’s hard to see USC manhandling the Irish as they did against those Charlie Weis teams.
3.) Given the lofty preseason expectations of this team, and USC teams in general, would you call this season, up to this point, a disappointment?
Sure. Quite simply, the Trojans have not played as they did at the end of 2011 when they finished the season in the Top 5, and a loss to Stanford has made the season even tougher. Now, having said that, there’s been plenty of little signs that the Trojans are ready to put it all together. They’ve had two straight games in which they were able to control the lines of scrimmage and the passing game finally looked good against Utah.
4.) Stanford beat USC. Washington beat Stanford. Do you put any stock in that sort of “He beat you, I beat him” comparison?
To a degree, but it’s all about match-ups as I said before. Much like Petco Park was built to be ‘Bonds Proof’, Stanford was built to beat SC. And inversely, this set of Trojans is built to beat teams that run a spread offense and I think the Huskies are closer to Oregon in terms of style than Stanford, making it a far better match-up for USC. Now, where UW’s win over Stanford is worrisome for the Trojans, is that the Huskies did it by out muscling the Cardinal, meaning they’re capable of doing it again.
5.) If you could pick one Husky to be out of the game with a bad case of the flu (besides Keith Price) who would you select?
I’d never wish the flu on anyone, but you have to think that Sean Parker presents the biggest trouble for USC. He’s an extremely physical and athletic talent at safety, and I expect that the Trojans will be able to run on UW, meaning they would benefit more from a chick in the armor of the Husky secondary.
6.) Game prediction and score?
USC wins 31-17. The Trojans have a lot going for them in terms of the match-up. Keith Price is down, the UW defense comes into the game after giving up a million yards to Oregon, and USC finally got the offense running at top speed against Utah, albeit for about a quarter and a half. If those trends continue, the Trojans could find themselves waltzing to a victory much like LSU and Oregon. But let’s be real, this game is on the road and in the rain. CenturyLink Field will be extremely loud and possibly the loudest venue the Trojans have ever played in, rivaling Autzen. Plus, Gus Johnson is on the call and there’s a prophetic law that states that Gus is prohibited from calling boring games, home openers against Hawaii notwithstanding. USC will find themselves in a fight for a while, but they’ll wear down UW like they did Utah and open up the scoring in the second half. Basically, look for a repeat of the Utah game, minus all of the funny snaps and concussion controversies.