Question of the Week

"What will be the best unit vs. unit matchup in this weekend's game, where does USC fit in your top 25, and which player are you most looking forward to watching run out of the Coliseum tunnel?"

Scott Schrader

Unit vs. unit

One intriguing matchup will be the Trojan offensive line versus the Cornhusker's defensive line. USC was able to establish the run against an extremely solid Razorback defensive line, allowing the passing game to really open up in the second half of the game. USC must establish the run again against Nebraska or Booty might be picking grass out of his face-mask on numerous occassions. Last season, Arkansas lead the SEC in rushing defense and Nebraska held its opponent to an average of 85 rushing yards per game. Plus, Nebraska has a very experienced and solid line with all spots occupied by seniors.

USC in the Top 25

One could argue USC is ranked appropriately by the Coaches Poll and AP poll. Having watched numerous USC practices, knowing how well Pete Carroll has recruited, watching a fluid and solid performance at Arkansas and other games on television last week, I would put the Trojans at No. 3 behind Ohio State and LSU. We'll find out as the season progresses if Arizona simply has an inept offense (hard to believe it's as bad as it looked against LSU), but LSU has one of the fastest defenses I've seen. Also, Arizona was supposed to have one of the top defenses in the Pac-10 and LSU ran over the Wilcats with relative ease.

Running out of the tunnel

The player I'm most looking forward to see run out of the Coliseum is a healthy (or at least 80%) Chauncey Washington. As talented as the freshmen runningbacks are, it was very apparent to me that Chauncey is the best back the Trojans fielded two weeks ago. When he was in the game, he gained yards the other young backs probably wouldn't have. I believe we'll see the real Dwayne Jarrett stand up on Staurday, too.

Danny Page

Unit vs. unit

Nebraska's Tight Ends and Fullbacks against USC's Linebackers

The achilles heel of USC's defense has quietly become covering Tight Ends and Fullbacks on passing plays. There's no doubt the Men of Troy will put plenty of points on the board, but for Nebraska to keep up they need to use these outlets, especially tight end Matt Herian. Herian is one catch away from becoming the Huskers all-time reception leader at the position. Fresno State and Texas, the only two teams who competed with USC for a full 60 minutes last season, utilized these personnel, specifically on third down. Texas tight end David Thomas shredded Trojan LBs, specifically on third down, snagging 10 passes for 88 yards. Fresno State tight end Devyn McDonald and fullback Matt Rivera combined for 9 catches for 124 yards last November. Rey Mauluga even admitted after the Arkansas game that pass coverage is the biggest thing he and the other young LBs need to work on. Throwing to the backs and the tight end is a staple of the West Coast offense, so expect Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan to rely on this matchup, especially when the Huskers need to move the chains on third down.

USC in the Top 25

As of right now, I have USC number three, with Ohio State at one and Notre Dame two. The bye week undoubtedly hurt the Trojans, but a strong performance--no matter what the Irish do--will put USC back at number two. If USC wins, the X-factor this weekend will be Auburn. If Tuberville's Tigers are able to get a sizeable win over LSU Saturday, Auburn could take hold of number two for a good chunk of the season.

Running out of the tunnel

JDB. You could easily say that I'm taking the easy way out here, but it really will be unique to see John David Booty jog onto the Coliseum field as the team's undisputed offensive leader. This will be the fourth home opener for JDB, but the first game at the Coliseum in which much of the Trojan's fate will be held in his hands. I'm interested to see his demeanor in warmups and how he interacts with other members of the team leading up to kickoff.

Erik McKinney

Unit vs. unit

In terms of matchups on Saturday, few will be as intense as the beatdown that Nebraska fans will give the local Costco meat departments. But sticking to the battles inside the Coliseum, the best will be between the ‘Huskers defensive line and the Trojans' offensive line. In fact, if Adam Carriker lines up against Sam Baker, we'll be watching arguably the two best players at their respective positions going at each other. Although, if I'm Bill Callahan, Carriker doesn't even get near Baker during pregame warm-ups, let alone the actual game. The biggest aspect of this matchup, however, will be Trojan quarterback John David Booty. The Nebraska line will get penetration; they're that good. But Booty needs to keep his wits about him and either release the ball early or show the pocket presence needed to sidestep the rush. Few things are more aggravating for a defensive lineman than to get constant penetration through the line with nothing to show for it. I don't expect the line to allow anything resembling constant pressure, and it will be important for them to keep the Nebraska defensive line from swinging momentum by getting sacks.

USC in the Top 25

The Trojans should be tucked right behind Ohio State at number two in the nation. The Buckeyes are the only team in the nation that has looked great in the season's first two weeks against anything resembling competition. Although, if I could put them anywhere, it would be around 23, because there's nothing more dangerous than a team that feels disrespected. Plus, it's bee so long since I've been able to watch the Trojans climb in the rankings, I've almost forgotten what it's like.

Running out of the Tunnel

Desmond Reed. There might not be another player at USC who embodies the spirit of this Trojan team more than Reed and there might not be another player in college football who can connect with his team's fans more than #22. From the time he arrived on campus, he has done nothing but give 100% on every play, whether he's on the field or not. He's been determined to compete for playing time and to see the field on a consistent basis. Watching him pump up the crowd when he was on kick coverage could get you excited for anything. I don't know if there's anyone who has more fun playing football than Reed, and there's certainly nobody that I have more fun watching. His first game at the Coliseum since that horrific knee injury will be pure storybook.

Garry Paskwietz

Unit vs Unit

I'll go with the match-up of the USC receivers against the Nebraska secondary. There are some interesting subplots here with Dwayne Jarrett receiving some strong words from his position coach this week about his performance in game one, the Nebraska people probably didn't appreciate Lane Kiffin giving Jarrett any more motivation than he needed to come out and have a big game. We've also heard some trash talk from one of the Cornhusker cornerbacks and you can be sure the Trojan players are well aware of his statements. Again, probably not a smart thing to give the Trojans more ammunition when they will be playing their first game of the year in front of an adoring sold-out crowd at the Coliseum. It will likely take some big plays in the passing game for USC to get off to any kind of fast start and I think Jarrett, John David Booty, Steve Smith and Fred Davis are certainly up to the task.

USC in the Top 25

Based on what I've seen so far I would put Ohio State in the top spot primarily because they haven't done anything to drop. They are really the one team I've seen out there who resembles the Trojans in terms of putting together a reasonably complete football team so early in the season. I would have USC at #2 and then LSU at #3, Auburn at #4 and the Irish at #5. I'm not sure if LSU is as good as they looked last week or if Arizona is that bad. Regardless, I think the Trojans and Buckeyes are the two teams deserving of being at the top and I couldn't care less who is 1 or who is 2 at this point. Lots of football left to be played before we need to start worrying about such things.

Running out of the Tunnel

I can't choose between Chauncey Washington and Desmond Reed. To pick one would be unfair to the other because both have such compelling reasons to cheer for them on Saturday. You have to imagine the thought of running out of the tunnel was something that crossed the minds of both players as Chauncey fought through the classwork to reach this point or while Des struggled with rehab to come back far sooner than anyone anticipated. I can't wait to join 92,000 others in welcoming them back with enthusiastic applause.


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