With tough road games at Washington and Notre Dame looming in the distance, the Trojans upcoming game against Stanford at the Coliseum all of a sudden becomes a must game for a team that needs to get back into the win column.
Coming into the season we knew that with a little luck we could be 3-0 heading into this game but instead it is not too surprising that we are 1-2 although we have seen signs of improvement from the previous regime. Stanford is the oldest rival for the Trojans and USC will need to reverse the recent fortunes that have seen us lose the past two games with the Cardinal. In both games the Trojans had the lead at halftime but were unable to hold it including the ending last year that few could forget when Kevin Arbet saw the winning pass go over his head and into the waiting arms of a Stanford receiver as the game ended.The problem for the Trojans is that in recent years this has been about the time that we have started to see a slide in performance, in fact USC is 6-12 over the last 3 seasons in games that took place after the first month of the year. This is not a good sign for Trojan fans and much has been talked about this week in terms of the job facing Pete Carroll to turn around the mindset of the players and we will know a lot from this game when we see how they bounce back from the tough loss in Eugene.
The Trojans will have their hands full with an experienced and balanced Cardinal team that features 11 seniors starting on defense and an offense that can run the ball with authority but also has an athletic quarterback who can simply make things happen. Carroll took time this week to praise Stanford free safety Tank Williams while linebacker Coy Wire will also be one to watch as he is averaging close to 10 tackles per game. On offense, look for the Cardinal to establish their 1-2 punch of running backs Brian Allen and Kerry Carter but a key will be to contain quarterback Randy Fasani, who brings leadership and tremendous athletic ability. A major point of concern for USC will also have to be special teams following the disaster last week while trying to cover any kind of kick. Brian Allen is 7th in the nation in kickoff returns averaging 31 yards per return while Luke Powell is 2nd in the country at over 33 yards per punt return.