After a much needed bye week, the Huskies take to the road and head to LA to take on a familiar round face. UW faces former Head Coach Steve Sarkisian for the first time since heading back to SoCal in a much anticipated Thursday night matchup.
The Dawgs hope to rebound after a painful home loss to Cal. It’s not going to be an easy task. #17 ranked USC is very talented and have one of the best QBs in the country.
USC has a 3-1 record after thumping Arizona State in Tempe last weekend. In true Sark fashion, the Trojans lost a home game 2 weeks to Stanford to start their conference season. This is a huge game for USC as they look to keep pace in the P12 South with undefeated Utah.
Cody Kessler is off to a hot start, and has thrown 15 TDs against just 1 INT in his first 4 games. The Trojans QB is a traditional dropback passer that can make every throw. The Senior is not an elite athlete, but he can move around the pocket and avoid the pass rush. The polished signal caller doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, so the Huskies will need to make life uncomfortable for Kessler to have a chance.
USC can run the ball as well, and have a lot of quality RBs. Sark will rotate 4 RBs and will go with the hot hand, but Freshman Ronald Jones II is capable of a big game.
The Trojans aren’t quite as balanced when it comes to receivers. JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t just have an All-P12 name, the 6’2″ 215 pound Sophomore has the game to back it up. The talented WR is tearing up defenses and is a big play threat with a catch of at least 50 yards in each game this year. Kessler and Smith-Schuster will test the Husky secondary early and often. Budda Baker needs to have a big game to keep UW competitive.
Except for the Stanford game, where Justin Wilcox’s defense gave up 41 points, the Trojan defense has looked elite this season. Of course, USC has a lot of talent on defense, but they have also given up a lot of yards in their 2 conference games (well over 900 yards combined). Wilcox is still employing the bend, but don’t break, defense philosophy.
The strength of the Trojan’s defense is probably their secondary. Senior Kevon Seymour is a top tier NFL prospect and the leader of a tall, physical group of CBs (sound familiar?). Jake Browning will need to be extremely careful when testing USC through the air.
Stanford demonstrated that USC can be run on if an offense is persistent and physical. Trouble for Coach Pete and the Dawgs is that UW doesn’t have Stanford’s OL. Senior DEs Greg Townsend Jr. and Claude Pelon will be charged with leading the charge against the Husky running game, so winning the battle at the line of scrimmage is essential to pulling off the upset.
Su’a Cravens. Wilcox uses Craven on defense in the Shaq Thompson role. The Junior LB shares a lot of characterics with Shaq and is a playmaker in the same vein. Cravens is a big hitter and specializes in forcing turnovers. The less we hear from Cravens on Thursday, the better.
For the Huskies to win, they need to:
Run the ball. Yes, it really is that simple. Maybe simple isn’t the best word. It’s going to be tough as hell to beat the Trojans, but the only chance that UW has in pulling the upset is keeping Kessler on the sideline and wearing down the USC defense.
It would be nice if USC had the type of frustrating loss at home to a team that they should beat that Husky fans experienced during the Sark era, but it’s not going to happen. Coach Pete doesn’t have the offense to hang with the big boys, and this one gets away from UW early. USC 41, UW 13.
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Thursday, October 8 @ 6 pm (PST) on ESPN.
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