USC's Performance vs. Cal Can Be Misleading

The Trojans' 23-17 victory over the Golden Bears last Saturday was one that defied all statistical logic. Thus, some might go as far to say that Pete Carroll's team was exposed for its various weaknesses. Nevertheless, ASU's defensive coordinator Brent Guy dismisses those notions and claims that the reigning Pac-10 champions are as explosive as ever, and last Saturday's game didn't come close to show all of their weapons in their arsenal.

"I know how dangerous Reggie Bush and Lendale White are," said Guy. "They're both averaging six yards carrying the ball. They're the defending national champions and they're undefeated. Even though they've played in some tight games, I think they still know how to win."

Common wisdom would suggest that in a pivotal game, such as the one against Cal, USC was going to throw everything and the proverbial kitchen sink at the visitors from Northern California. The Sun Devils' defensive coordinator begs to differ. "I think they have got a lot more," Guy stated. "They didn't show as much as I thought they would against Cal quite honestly. They've got some stuff with Bush splitting out and running sweeps, and they're some other stuff they do with him that they didn't show. There's a lot more to see yet."

While no conference team can probably compare with USC in terms of depth, the injury (broken leg) to Steve Smith is one that could be hard to overcome. However, Guy maintained that the Trojans could successfully compensate for the loss of their best wide receiver. "They still have some tall young kids that can catch the football," he explained. "Steve was obviously a good vertical threat for them. They do a good job spreading the ball around, and they check down the ball on screens to White and Bush. Those guys are dangerous - Bush has scored three times in five games on the same screen (play). I think they'll have different ways to screen us with those guys, if they can't get the ball down the field vertically."

Coming off a blazing 5-0 start, a bye week can potentially ‘cool off' a red-hot team such as the Sun Devils. On the other hand, it does carry many positives. "It's always good to have the extra practices on them," Guy said, "see the game (against Cal), and them not having the extra week to prepare for us. You would always have to say that it's an advantage for you."

"Without question we needed the bye week," Guy continued. "Rest our legs, extra preparation for USC, we had some guys that were out that can come and practice now…it was a good spot in the middle of the season to have the bye week."

During the team's off week, Guy and six other ASU coaches went on recruiting assignments to various locations around the country. The Devils' defensive coordinator talked about the effects that an undefeated season can have on a team's prospects. "Everybody knows about you, knows that you're undefeated and playing well," he stated. "A lot of them have seen us play. It does help to get kids to visit you, but you still have to do a good job when you get them here on the visits. I think we'll be able to get the majority of the kids that we are interested in to visit. When you're hot – you're hot, and right now we're playing well and people are noticing us."

Preparing for a big game, such as the USC one, can be approached in many different ways. Whatever method(s) are used, Guy contended that the USC game became the season's most important contest only after his team completed its last game against Oregon. "This is why they (ASU's players) came here – to play games like this, in a stadium like that on the road," he said. "It was no different than going down to Oregon. That game was the biggest game we played, and now this game is the biggest one we'll play. We're preparing the same way. We have to get out here, know what we're doing in practice, work hard, and when you hit the field be confident that you know how to execute all the calls and make the plays when they come to you."

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