Keys to the Game

There are a few key elements for the Trojans to be victorious this Saturday against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (7:00 p.m. CT, ABC). Clay DeLeon of SCPlayBook breaks them down for you in this analysis.

The Running Game

Along with John David Booty's leadership at quarterback, the tailbacks should turn in a solid performance. With C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson leading the way, the running backs should contribute to the team's performance. A healthy Joe McKnight should keep the defensive backs of the Cornhuskers on their toes.

Wide Receivers

A successful running game should open things up for the receiving corps. Patrick Turner has been out for two weeks and a returning Turner should solidify this group. Hazelton turned in a great performance against the Vandals, and he should build upon that game. David Ausberry needs to take his game up a notch and fulfill his potential. Ronald Johnson could add a spark to the receivers as could Travon Patterson.

The Line

Key to the success of both the running and passing games will be the offensive line. True freshman center, Kristopher O'Dowd will anchor the line, and he is up to the task. He will be backed up by Jeff Byers. Matt Spanos is making a comeback at center but won't be ready for this game. Sam Baker and Jeff Byers will hold down the left side, Chilo Rachal and Drew Radovich will be on the right, Charles Brown will step in where needed. The line needs to give Booty the time to pass while opening lanes for the tailbacks as needed. This will be key to the run and pass attack.

Defense

The defensive line will be anchored by Sedrick Ellis at Nose Tackle and Lawrence Jackson at Defensive End. Of importance is pressuring the quarterback. Everson Griffen at the other end spot was a surprise starter for the Idaho Game. Griffen is lightening quick and strong, but he needs to play a more centered game and not over pursue.

Josh Pinkard is out for this game, and maybe out for a while. Shareece Wright, Cary Harris, Terrell Thomas and Vincent Joseph need to play big to solidify the corners.

The linebackers are a solid group with Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. Cushing suffered an ankle sprain but should be ready for Nebraska. If he is not available, Clay Matthews should fill the gap nicely. More importantly, Rey Maualuga does have a tendency to over pursue and needs to temper his speed to contain the run.

Special Teams

Kicker David Buehler has shown he has plenty of leg strength, most of his kickoffs going into the endzone. Buehler has to remain focused on field goal attempts. Kickoff and punt coverage has improved this year, this unit has to continue to contain the return men. Greg Woidneck has shown ample abilities as the punter.

The Keys

Patrick Turner is the centerpoint of having a strong receiving game. If he turns in a solid game, it will take the pressure off of Hazelton and Ausberry.

O'Dowd should continue the solid play at center he showed in his first outing.

Break away running from either Gable, Johnson or McKnight will help loosen up the passing game for Booty and company.

It is important for Booty to have a solid performance, but more importantly show leadership and a high confidence level.

If Griffen and Maualuga slow their games down a little and contain Nebraska's running attack, the defense should turn in a solid performance.


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