USC Preview

The top ranked Southern California Trojans loom large on the horizon for the Sun Devils. A bye week has allowed the Sun Devils to rest some minor injuries and some extra practice in preparation for Southern Cal. Let's take a look at how USC shapes up.

On offense, the Trojans have a bona fide star in Reggie Bush. He is one of the most electric players to watch in all of college football. He's also one of the most versatile with 3 TDs on the ground and 4 receiving TDs. He's spectacular at catching the ball out of the backfield and making plays. Complimenting Bush's moves in the backfield is RB LenDale White. He's more of a power back And leads the team in rushing and has 5 TDs on the year.

Matt Leinart isn't the flashiest QB in the country but he's simply a winner, period. It's hard to argue with that. He has a good command of Norm Chow's offense and doesn't make too many mistakes out there. He's thrown for 10 TDs and 3 INT's so far in 2004 and is averaging 237 yards per game in the air. Leinart will be without his number one WR, Steve Smith, after his injury in the Cal game. Smith had accounted for quite a bit of the SC passing attack so it is a definite blow to the WR corps. It will be up to Dwayne Jarrett to pick up Smith's slack. Jarrett is a very talented freshman and has shown flashes but will be counted on now, more than ever, to be consistent. Chris McFoy is also another option at WR. Leinart will also have two capable TE's to throw to in Alex Holmes and Dominique Byrd, back from injury.

Defensively, the Trojans are a handful. Their front 7 is simply awesome and they get after it every game. Up front, the duo of Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson have been giving opposing offenses nightmares all season. Patterson has 8 tackles for loss while Cody has 6, 5 of those being sacks. It will be incumbent on the Sun Devil OL to keep these guys out of the backfield in order for Andrew Walter to shine. Freshman Jeff Schweiger is a talent up front as well with 2 sacks on the year. DE Lawrence Jackson can get in the backfield as well. Any combination that Ed Orgeron throws out there will pose a test for the ASU OL.

The Trojans LBs have been just as active as the Devil LBs this year. Lofa Tatupu leads the team in tackles with 44 and has 6 TFL's and 1 INT. He's a playmaker in the middle and complementing him on the strong side is Matt Grootegoed. Groots can tackle well but is also good in coverage, posting 3 INT's so far. With the contributions of Tatupu and Grootegoed, it's easy to overlook Dallas Sartz and Keith Rivers but both are just as capable of making plays behind the line.

The secondary gets a boost this week with the return of stud SS Darnell Bing from injury. Jason Leach, at the other Safety spot, is a solid player who can limit big plays with his good open field tackling. Ronald Nunn and Kevin Arbet at the corners haven't been on lock down mode but have done enough for the pass defense to keep it together. They do benefit from the big push the DL gets up front.

USC has it together on Special Teams. Tom Malone is one of the best Punters in the nation. He averages 44 yards a punt and has a long of 62 yards this year. Malone can place his punts well with 6 punts of his inside the 20-yard line in 2004. K Ryan Killeen is 5 of 9 on FG's and a perfect 22 of 22 on PAT's. Whether it's on kickoffs or punts, you don't want to put the ball in Reggie Bush's hands as he is dynamic in the return game. He's amassed 315 yards on 11 kick returns this season and his longest return is 84 yards.

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