Minnesota vs USC Preview: Part 3

The third installment of the game breakdown between USC and Minnesota.

Players to Watch:

GOPHERS:

-- WR Da'Jon McKnight #6 -- Many thought he would be the go-to wide receiver for Adam Weber this season but he has yet to have a breakout game. The Trojans rank last in the Pacific-10 Conference in pass defense so McKnight should be a major factor in the game plan, especially when he gets matched up against true freshman cornerback Nickell Robey. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound McKnight is a matchup nightmare for the diminutive 5-foot-8, 165-pound Robey, who could struggle with the length and strength of the Gopher wide receiver.

-- DT Jewhan Edwards #68 -- The massive 6-foot-2, 330-pound nose tackle made three tackles and all three of them were tackles for loss, including a sack. Edwards' three tackles-for-loss were a career-best. The Gophers need more consistent pressure from the defensive line or their defense will continue to struggle.

-- FS Kyle Theret #27 -- The senior is back after missing the first two games due to a suspension. "I think his experience is going to help settle James Manuel in helping him get lined up and do things," coach Brewster said about the return of Theret. "I know our defense is very excited to have Kyle back in the lineup and playing again."

TROJANS:

-- RB Dillon Baxter #28 -- The true freshman missed the Trojans first game against Hawaii due to a suspension but return against Virginia, racking up 49 yards rushing and 8 yards receiving in his first collegiate game. The versatile athlete will play running back but will also line up as a slot receiver to catch passes. Baxter has freakish quickness and change-of-direction ability that make him so dangerous with the ball in his hands.

-- WR Ronald Johnson #83 -- The wide receiver is big play waiting to happen. He has already taken a punt return, 89 yards for a touchdown. The 6-foot-0, 185-pound senior is also the Trojans leading wide receiver with 117 yards and 3 touchdowns on 12 catches. His speed and explosive could pose problems for a Gopher secondary that was torched through the air last time out.

-- SS T.J. McDonald #7 -- The 6-foot-3, 205-pound headhunter leads the USC defense with 18 total tackles and 1 interception. The Trojans may line up the sophomore safety closer to the line of scrimmage on early downs to try and counter Minnesota's run-first mentality.

INJURY WATCH:

Gophers:

FS Kim Royston (leg, doubtful)

Trojans:

DE Nick Perry (ankle, probable), LB Marquis Simmons (appendix, questionable.)

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