Wide receivers for the Trojans are talented, young and unproven. The list includes: Patrick Turner, Vidal Hazelton, David Ausberry, Travon Patterson, Garrett Green, Ronald Johnson, Brandon Carswell and at times, Joe McKnight. A virtual who's who in the talent pool, but a couple will need to step up, make some big plays and solidify the position.
The tailbacks are solid, with C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson leading the way. They'll be backed up by Allen Bradford, Desmond Reed, and yes, McKnight. It would be an added plus to see Chauncey Washington, but after better than two weeks of battling a shoulder injury, his ability to contribute remains to be seen. Washington feels he's ready to contribute, when healthy he could be the best back in the bunch.
True freshman Kristopher O'Dowd is learning the center position and by all accounts should be able to hold down the spot. O'Dowd will be backed up by Jeff Byers.
Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing lead the linebacking corps. Cushing has been battling a sprained ankle since opening day. In his place, rising star and former walk on Clay Matthews will start. Matthews will play very well, but he's not Cushing. Cushing may get into the game, depending on his ability to move on the field.
John David Booty is an accurate passer who has gained confidence over the last year. Will he lead his team as well as he is capable of?
Defensive Line/Pass Rush
This group, led by Sedrick Ellis and Lawrence Jackson is a strong front line. Kyle Moore and Everson Griffen will pair up with Lawrence Jackson at the end spots. Can they pressure quarterback Sam Keller enough to disrupt his rhythm? Will the Trojans throw some blitz packages at Keller?
And the Answer Is
Yes, yes, yes and yes. After watching Pete Carroll coach this team for 7 years, one thing is readily apparent. Carroll knows how to game plan and knows how to get the team to play up to its potential. It will be an exercise to watch all of these questions answered in the game versus the Cornhuskers. Some players are ready to step up to the task. Others will learn their roles as the team progresses each week. If nothing else, it's fun to watch a Pete Carroll led team progress throughout the season.