He’s not Matt Leinart but John David Booty has been solid for the Trojans so far this season. On the year Booty completed 241 of his 390 passes for 2,919 yards, 25 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. Booty has the physical skills needed for the position, displaying the arm strength to make all the throws in the system. His accuracy and decision making seem to be spotty, though, and he can be a streaky quarterback. He has the tendency to make some great throws downfield one drive, then miss some easy throws on the next one. When Booty is on, he is very good. When he goes cold, the receivers are forced to make tough plays.
Chauncey Washington and C.J Gable are no Bush and White but they are two developing stars. Washington obviously has more size and power and has been the most productive back this far. He rushed for 736 yards on 155 carries (4.7 avg.) and had nine rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Gable rushed for 409 yards (4.2 avg) and four touchdowns. He isn’t as consistent as Washington, but his speed makes him a threat every time he touches the ball. Backup Emmanuel Moody has battled injury problems and hasn’t carried the ball in quite awhile, but he contributed well early on. Moody rushed for 459 yards (5.8 avg) and two touchdowns. Injuries have forced the Trojans to dig deep at fullback. Expect jumbo sized Thomas Williams to start here, where he is mostly used as lead blocker.
The Trojans have the best tandem of starting receivers in the nation with Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett. Smith has 64 catches for 975 yards (15.2 avg.) and eight touchdowns on the year, while Jarrett had 58 catches for 773 yards (13.3 avg.) and 10 touchdowns. Matching up with these two talented pass catchers will be a tough task for the Michigan secondary. Jarrett has excellent size at 6-5 and moves very well for a big man. He does drop the occasional easy pass, but makes up for it with the catch you wouldn’t think he has a chance to make. Steve Smith is a speedy version of ex-Wolverine wide receiver Jason Avant. Smith really shows his experience on the field and is close to a complete player at the position.
One thing the Trojans will do is line up Smith in the slot and put 6’5 Patrick Turner out on the edge or vice versa. So far, Turner has done most of his work as a possession receiver because he doesn’t have great speed, but he is a possible X-factor in this game because of his size and sheer talent. Senior Chris McFoy is a player that works well in the short game but won’t be a threat downfield. At tight end the Trojans line up former receiver Fred Davis. Davis has uncommon athleticism for the position, but the downside is he isn’t a powerful blocker. He currently ranks third on the team with 35 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns. The Trojans will use two tight end sets where Dale Thompson is brought in as the second tight end. He is a rarely used receiving option and does his best work blocking.
Much like Ohio State, the offense runs a variety of blocking schemes which requires the lineman to be versatile up front. Overall the offensive line is very experienced. It all starts with left tackle Sam Baker. Though Baker struggled against UCLA, he is a well established pass blocker that should give Wolverine defensive end LaMaar Woodley a run for his money. He isn’t a great drive blocker in the run game, but he fits the offensive scheme well. On the other side Kyle Williams has really stepped up in this his senior season and has been a key piece for the Trojans this year. Conversely, the guard play hasn’t been particularly strong on tape, as neither Radovich or Rachal appear to be on the level of the other lineman. That said, center Ryan Kalil has been a strong point inside. He doesn’t have the strength to handle jumbo sized interior players, but his athleticism is impressive.
Michigan and USC are very similar on offense. They use mostly pro style formations: I formation, two tight end, one back-three wide etc. The SC offense is looking to comeback from a terrible performance against UCLA, a loss that ruined their National Championship hopes. The running game can be stopped by the Wolverines but the top task will be stopping Jarrett and Smith in the passing game. A lot will hinge on how well John David Booty plays. If he is more hot than cold, the Trojans will be hitting plays against a Michigan secondary that played very poorly against Ohio State. If Booty gets on another cold streak, the game could just be an extension of the troubles the offense faced against UCLA.