Question of the Week

"Using the Trojan defense, how would you defend Huskies' quarterback Isaiah Stanback?"

Erik McKinney

Step one: Re-watch tape of the Rose Bowl.
Step two: Don't play like the red team.

But seriously, Stanback isn't nearly the quarterback that Vince Young was (obviously). I don't think spying him with a linebacker is the correct decision, although I'm afraid that might be what the Trojan coaches go with. Rey Maualuga seems like the obvious choice, but I don't think he's fast enough to track down Stanback in the open field without an angle. I think the defensive ends will be the most important players on the field Saturday. If they can restrain themselves from taking their rush too far up the field, Stanback shouldn't have running lanes up the middle and will be rendered far less effective.

I'd also like to see some heavy blitzing throughout the game. I like the odds of forcing Stanback to make quick decisions with the ball, even if it's against one-on-one coverage. But the biggest thing for the entire defense will be wrapping him up once they get a hand on him, especially on pass rushes. Stanback is one of those quarterbacks where, once he feels even a little bit of pressure, the ball comes down and the legs start moving. If Trojan defenders are flying in and letting him duck underneath or wiggle out of a grasp, he'll be taking off for positive yards.

The best news for the Trojans is that Stanback has looked completely lost during his prior two games against the Trojans. He's shown signs of improvement this season, but if he isn't allowed that room to run, it could turn into a long day for the Huskies' quarterback.

George Young

I don't think there is anything dramatic that I would change in our defense – other than rushing the passer more. We know that Stanback has a strong arm and prefers to go deep – so Pete's deep cover defense is perfect. I'm told that Stanback is slow making progressions off his #1 receiver and flushes out of the pocket at the first sign of trouble. If that turns out to be true in our game, then rushing him with some zone blitz packages seems like a good plan. If he were a short passer, like we saw last week, we might have to keep our linebackers in pass coverage. Apparently short passes are his weakness.

Since the Huskies use a zone-blocking scheme most of the time, maybe we can overload zones with combinations of DL's and LB's and DB's. To be successful this strategy depends on rotating our other players into the vacated defensive positions – but I think Pete's defenses have done that rather well in the past.

Stanback is extremely fast and is the kind of running QB that has given us trouble at times. I think we need to designate speed rushers to flush him out of the pocket while keeping spy's back to make sure he does not escape down field. If this is successful he'll have to throw away a lot of passes or throw into coverage.

With all of the above said, Washington is not 4-1 for nothing, so I consider this game to be a legitimate challenge. I expect Stanback to complete about half his passes and to occasionally burn us with a run. That will not be enough for the Huskies and we'll win comfortably.

David Newbury

Isaiah Stanback is a dual threat QB. He is much better outside of the pocket than in it. He makes huge plays with his legs and his best pass plays come when he is flushed from the pocket. When he is flushed he loves to run to the right. With all this said the Trojans must make him uncomfortable and keep him in the pocket. One of the keys to this game will be the play of our defensive ends. They must pressure Stanback without running to far upfield and opening up running lanes. Our Ends must give up their pass rush if they sense they are getting to far upfield to keep him in the pocket. If he gets out of the pocket our corners will have to cover for extended periods of time. If we blitz, we must blitz to force him to scramble to the left. He likes to run to the right. He is a right handed Qb. Forcing him to run to the left makes it harder for him to throw accurately on the run. Keeping him in the pocket is a must.

Garry Paskwietz

Even Pete Carroll, who can put a positive spin on the most dire of circumstances, has admitted in the past that athletic QB's who can run are among the most difficult for a defense to stop. One of the reasons that is usually the case is because these players are often the best athletes on the field and in Stanback the Huskies certainly have a talented player. The Trojans recruited him out of high school so they know full well how good he can be.

However, for one of the few times all year, Stanback will look across the line of scrimmage on Saturday and see athletes who can perform at a similarly high level. The key will be for those athletes to make plays. All three units of the Trojan defense seemed to sag last weekend against Washington State and just didn't play up to their capabilities. Carroll and his staff will need to figure out ways to make sure our defense is aggressive and playing at a high energy level, coming out of the tunnel in front of 92,000 fans is a good way to get things started.

In my ideal scenario, Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers lead the way as they refuse to allow Stanback to turn the corner and break a big running play (designed or broken). In order for those two linebackers to roam free, we must see a solid pass rush from the d-line and good coverage in the secondary. I think all units are up to the task. I think the defense is tired of hearing about how they underperformed last week and they are ready to go out at the Coliseum and shut down Stanback to help prove a point and remind everybody that they can be a pretty good defense.


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