Coming into fall camp the USC coaches were concerned about a cornerback position that lost three seniors to NFL camps and since then we've seen season ending leg injuries to starter Kevin Arbet and his replacement Ronald Nunn. What that means as we head into conference play is that freshmen William Buchanan and Justin Wyatt will be thrown into the fire against a level of sophisticated passing offense that we have yet to face this year.
The Trojans begin Pac-10 play this weekend with a game that suddenly becomes a stern test of their resolve.A team that had been clicking on all cylinders suddenly hit a dry spell for three quarters in Manhattan against a physical Wildcat team and intensely vocal crowd but positive coaching from Pete Carroll and senior leadership from Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu helped to right the ship in the fourth quarter comeback.That experience will be needed to maintain the sharpness we saw in the fourth quarter with OregonState coming to town for a tough conference opener as the Beavers are playing explosive football under coach Dennis Erickson.The Trojans had their hands full last year trying to stop RB Steven Jackson when he was a freshman and the big man is running with a lot of confidence right now.Our run defense has improved and this will certainly be a big challenge for the Trojan front seven.The young corner duo of William Buchanan and Justin Wyatt will be tested early and often by QB Derek Anderson and WR James Newson.It will be important for the Trojan offense to get off to a good start against the OSU defense led by senior corner Dennis Weathersby and linebackers Nick Barnett and Richard Seigler.
Congratulations to Carson Palmer for moving into the top spot on the All-Time USC completion and yardage lists.For all that he has accomplished in terms of those impressive statistics there is nothing that Carson wants more than to lead this team to a Pac-10 championship and from what we've seen so far this season there is no doubt he is capable of doing just that.For Carson and Trojan fans alike there would be no sweeter sight than to see #3 leading USC onto the Rose Bowl floor come New Year's Day.
Trojan offensive tackle recruit Drew Radovich was solid last week in the Mission Viejo victory over Mater Dei.He is a tremendous pass blocker and showed unexpected nastiness on a couple pancake blocks.One of the main things that stands out about Drew is his ability to be a physically dominant player despite the fact that he has such little definition in his frame compared to other top lineman recruits.Drew has great size and unbelievable lateral quickness so once he gets a couple years with a college level strength and condition program he has an unlimited future.The Trojans are in a serious battle right now with Washington, Colorado, Oregon and UCLA.
Coming into fall camp the USC coaches were concerned about a cornerback position that lost three seniors to NFL camps and since then we've seen season ending leg injuries to starter Kevin Arbet and his replacement Ronald Nunn.What that means as we head into conference play is that freshmen William Buchanan and Justin Wyatt will be thrown into the fire against a level of sophisticated passing offense that we have yet to face this year.Darrell Rideaux had to earn his starting job in spring ball yet now is considered the grand veteran of the group and his steady play will be vital.Marcell Allmond is still in the mix and even John Walker will get another look as the coaches will try anything to shore up this spot.We've seen freshmen rise up to the challenge before and at no time did we need for that to happen more than now as one of these players could really seize a golden opportunity to shine.
One area that has been a strength recently is the defensive line and that unit only figures to get better once Bernard Riley gets back into the rotation.The coaches have brought him along slowly as Bernard returns from his knee injury but he had a solid practice yesterday and could provide a real boost to our run defense.
There will be several Trojan recruits on the field this Friday night when Fox Sports Net 2 televises the Mira Costa vs Banning game at .Michael Okwo (#35) of Mira Costa has been offered a scholarship as an OLB although he will star on both sides of the ball in this game.Michael has terrific pursuit speed and the word is that the Trojan staff will need to win over his parents because while Michael really likes the USC coaches his parents are enamored with Stanford. The Mustangs also have a pair of sophomore defensive tackles that are worth keeping an eye on. Mataele Pauu (#72) is 6-3, 280 and he is a Tongan who reminds many Mira Costa coaches of Phil Fonua, a USC commit in the mid-90's who had a brain aneurysm before he ever got to campus and never played football again. Justin Reece (#66) started some as a freshman last year and he is listed at 6-2, 235. For Banning Patrick Perry (#10) should be one of the more highly recruited running backs in the area next season and he is a 6-0, 205 junior right now. Patrick recently ran a 10.7 100 and mentions USC as the top school he is considering.He shares the backfield with Oregon verbal A.J. Tuitele (#31) and it's easy to look at Tuitele right now and imagine that Troy Polamalu looked the same way as a high school senior. A.J. is 5-11, 190 and flies to the ball as a heavy hitting safety in addition to being a terrific running back.