On to the Trojan defense today. The Trojan defense struggled mightily the first game against Hawaii. Since then, they’ve gotten progressively better but they still have some obvious weaknesses where they haven’t put it all together. The talent is there though.
This is an area that most people regard as the strength of the defense. That much has proven true in USC’s first 4 games, although they haven’t truly been tested. Chris Polk will be the best back USC has faced this year and the Huskies offensive line might be the best they’ve faced also. That’s pretty pathetic. Anyway, the Trojans are led by Jurrell Casey. Casey is a big 305 lb. defensive tackle who was a pre-season All American in some publications. He’s perhaps the biggest reason USC is stout against the run and poses quite a few match-up problems up front. Other names to watch on the line are Armond Armstead, Nick Perry, and DaJohn Harris. Armstead and Perry have been hurt as of late but are probable for the game Saturday. If they can’t go that is obviously a big hit to the USC defense. They do have some decent depth here unless one or two more guys get hurt. The Trojans’ need to rely on their pass rush to take some of the heat off the much-aligned secondary.
The Trojans have had more talent at the linebacker position in the last decade than some NFL teams. Last year, they took a little bit of a step back and it’s yet to be seen how good they are this year. Obviously, there’s talent. That goes for all of USC’s positions. USC has three players in their linebacking corps who saw quite a bit of time last year, Michael Morgan, Malcolm Smith, and Derek Kennard. Morgan has good size and is one of the fastest players on the team. Smith started all of last year at weak-side linebacker. Both Morgan and Smith are team captains. Derek Kennard takes the middle linebacker spot. He split time with Morgan last year at strong-side linebacker and now slides over. These guys deserve credit for helping shut down team’s run games but also deserves a little of the blame for not helping the young secondary.
On to that weak secondary I keep alluding to. Let me say that they haven’t been as bad as I might have let on. The Hawaii game was truly atrocious. The secondary was carved up the entire game and never looked that close to stopping them. They have been better since then but not entirely. Wazzu moved the ball pretty well through the air against the Trojans but couldn’t take advantage. USC does have 6 interceptions on the year, that’s pretty good but when you see the amount of passing attempts against them, it make a lot more sense. The best player in the secondary is Shareece Wright. It seems like he’s been a Trojan for forever. He’s the guy who laid the late hit on Jake in 2007 that most Husky fans count as a cheap shot. He’s also a very good cornerback. Most teams stay away from him and I imagine that the Huskies will on Saturday. USC has been breaking in a new corner and two new safeties outside of Wright. This will be the first time this unit has been really tested since Hawaii and will be a good gauge of their improvement. Thank goodness this isn’t Nebraska!
Usually I end the scouting reports here but I feel like I should add that USC’s special teams are excellent. They are the best the Huskies have faced this year. This is an obvious area of concern since the Dawgs have been terrible in special teams. So, consider yourself warned in that area. I really think that might be where this game is won, which doesn’t bode well for the Huskies.
Thanks for reading, lots more coming tomorrow!
This is our 300th post. The 4 writers here try not to get to into numbers or stats but this seems like an appropriate time to thank you all. I’d like to think that I’d keep writing these posts if we didn’t receive any views. But, the reality is that supplying the reader is motivation to write. This year has been a great start to the blog and we owe that to you all for reading! We look forward to the next 300 (and more) posts.