Hello Followers. Hope you’re doing great!
As of this minute, it is an hour and a half from the start of today’s game against the USC Trojans. And even though I’ve lost the time I need to put up a decent post, I did want to pass along a few thoughts.
To begin, I think that there’s a really good chance that we’re going to win this game today. And the reason for that optimism is as follows:
First, USC’s offensive line is really beat up right now. And the fact that they’re going to be starting some young guns upfront offers the potential for our D line to stop the run and get in Cody Kessler’s face for most of the day.
The second reason why I like our chances is that it looks like the weather is going to be shaky for much of the game. And while its tempting to think that the rain and wind would work against us more than SC, the Utah game suggested the opposite. In other words, because we struggle to stop the pass (but can be pretty decent at stopping the run), anything that makes it harder for others to throw helps us immeasurably.
For those two reasons alone, I think that we have a real chance to keep the Trojans at or below 38 points today (provided that we’re able to possess and score). So, the main question is whether or not we can score the 38-41 needed to pull this one out and keep our bowl hopes alive?
In response to this question, Connor Halliday will have his five primary receiving targets healthy and ready for this game. And last time I checked (see CAL), a healthy Rio Suave, Vince, Dom, Myers, and RG5 can be really hard to stop. So, the good news for this game is we should see our primary guys on the field–at least to start!
On top of that, USC has shown itself to be downright awful (in spurts) at stopping the run. So, in the event that we’re able to keep up in this game early, there’s a good chance that we’ll be able to keep them off balance by running Morrow right between the tackles. And if we’re able to do that, we’ll be able to keep our D off the field, keep Kessler from getting any type of rhythm, and so forth.
On the flip side of things, USC has a lot of Stanford-like guys that our offensive line hasn’t handled very well.
Moreover, Wilcox has now twice shown that his recipe for beating the Air Raid is through a lot of press coverage and a lot of linebacker help on those bubbles. In 2012, that press coverage led to a litany of PI penalties and we ate the Dawgs alive in the second half. Then, last year in Husky stadium, those same penalties were not called. And as we all saw last year, when those holds are not called, the scores stays DOWN. And that’s not a result we can afford with our secondary being the way that it is….
So, once again the Refs are going to be really big factors in the outcome of this game. We’re going to need some help today if we’re going to win…
Now to some quick keys:
1) Use the Sidelines and Endlines whever possible
In other words, whenever we get the chance, kick the goddamn ball out of bounds. Need I say more?
2) Win in the Trenches
Of course, this is always a key to the game. But if we have any chance of winning today, our offensive line is going to have to protect Connor and the Defensive line is going to have to play like they did against Oregon. If they don’t, the vulnerability of our secondary will be magnified and we’ll give up 50+ points once again. And there’s no way in hell that Connor et al. can match that–even if our line holds up.
3) Stay Close Early
This morning Jacob Thorpe identified a fast start as necessary for our chances. And while a fast start would be nice, its not required. What we cannot do is enter the second quarter down a couple of possessions. Remember, USC lacks depth, so the longer this game stays close, the more it favors WSU.
4) Be physical on the outside
This may be the biggest key of all. First our WRs are going to have to beat the press coverage that they’re going to see from SC’s five star corners. Then, our DBs are going to have to do a hell of a lot more to knock their guys off their routes. Because if we stay soft underneath like we have for the past three weeks, this one is going to be ugly early and often.
1) Will Connor throw for over 400 yards (Yes. I think he throws for 404)
2) Will our RBs amass over 100 yards (No)
3) Will we score over 35 points (NO)
If Mr. Charleston White were healthy and starting, this game would have Utah written all over it. And while I think that the ingredients are there for an upset today, I simply do not have confidence that our secondary (including our safety play) is far enough along to compete with anyone in the Pac-12 (even with a pass rush).
Moreover, while I love Halliday, I am just not sure that our offensive line is going to be able to handle USC’s pass rush early–and I think that will be needed to keep this game close headed into the second half.
So, I’m going to call this one 48-21 USC, even though I think the chance of an upset is very real.
And for that reason, I’m really excited about watching Connor and company chuck it around today.
Only four more weeks of Cougar Football folks, so lets enjoy it!
All for now. Go Cougs.