Keys to a Trojan Victory

There are less question marks on the USC Trojans this week. Or one would think. It would appear that the Trojans are running on all cylinders. The reality is, they've played just one impressive game, with a lot of football to be played. SCPlayBook takes a look at the keys to a successful Saturday.

Trojan Question Marks

Wide Receivers

Will a wide receiver catch more than three passes in this game? Patrick Turner, Vidal Hazelton, David Ausberry or Travon Patterson needs to step it up a notch. Seven catches for 75-100 yards would be reasonable from any one of these receivers. If two of them can reach those numbers and the running game remains consistent, it'll be lights out. An educated guess would be that the Trojans may be a week away from reaching that goal.

Running Backs

Chauncey Washington will be the starter for this match-up with the Cougars. Look for Washington, Stafon Johnson or C.J. Gable to surpass 100 yards running. No apparent problem here.

Defense

Linebackers

The linebacking group is a solid one with Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga. Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews have been fighting injuries. Either needs to be able to play at a high level.

Secondary

Under Pete Carroll's tenure, many teams have been able to gain significant yards by throwing the ball to the middle of the field. The secondary needs to tighten down the short passing game.

Cougars

Defensively, USC needs to keep quarterback Alex Brink from getting into a groove. Pressuring Brink to keep him from getting a smooth rhythm from the start will help the defense keep the Cougars in check.

Slowing down or getting in Michael Bumpus' face is a must. Bumpus is a talented receiver who caught 60 passes last season Offensively, the Trojans need to move the ball quickly and not allow the Cougar defense to get to John David Booty. If the Trojan running game is half as strong as it was last week, it will help to keep the Cougar defense on their toes.

Ball Security

Lost in the Trojans convincing 49-31 victory over Nebraska was the fact that USC fumbled five times. Fortunately for the Trojans, they only lost one of the five fumbles. But being that careless with the football is very uncharacteristic of a Pete Carroll coached team.

The Trojans come into Saturday's game as a 25 point favorite. This says that the Trojans have a lot more talent than the visiting Cougars, which shouldn't come as a shock to college football fans.

If the Trojans play a turnover free game then they are almost guaranteed to be victorious at the Coliseum. But if the Trojans put the ball on the ground like they did at Nebraska look for the Cougars high-powered offense to keep them in the game.

Like Pete Carroll always preaches," It's all about the ball."

USC Trojans vs. Washington State Cougars, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, ABC.


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