PROBABLE STARTERS vs. USC
RE: 96 MIKE GRAISE (6-3, 220, Jr.) or
9 LANCE BROADUS (6-2, 227, Sr.)
LT: 75 ROPATI PITOITUA (6-8, 290, Sr.)
RT: 40 AARON JOHNSON (6-7, 318, Sr.)
SE: 58 MATT MULLENNIX (6-6, 258, Sr.)
SLB: 38 CORY EVANS (6-2, 240, Jr.)
MLB: 52 GREG TRENT (5-11, 220, Jr.)
WLB: 49 KENDRICK DUNN (5-11, 224, Jr.)
RCB: 21 CHIMA NWACHUKWU (5-11, 189, Fr.)
SS: 18 ALFONSO JACKSON (5-9, 204, Jr.)
FS: 23 HUSAIN ABDULLAH (6-0, 199, Sr.)
LCB: 32 DEVIN GILES (6-0, 158, So.)
Best Defensive Player: MLB Greg Trent
Defensive Line -- The strength of the Cougars defense is their defensive line. They have some massive bodies inside; the starting defensive tackles, Johnson and Pitoitua weigh 318 lbs. and 290 lbs, respectively, while their backups weigh in at 317 and 292 lbs. The shortest starter on the line is the right end Mike Graise, who stands at a modest 6-3. Given Booty's history with batted balls at the line of scrimmage, makes this a definite area of concern for the Trojans. The weakness of the line seems to be the lack of bulk at right end, where Graise (220 lbs.) and Lance Broadus (227 lbs.) will split time. We all saw what the USC offensive line is capable of, 313 yards rushing against Nebraska last week, so expect the Trojans to pound right side of the Cougars line early and often.
Linebackers -- The Cougars' linebackers, led by the middle man Trent, are athletic and very active. Trent leads the team in tackles with 31, while weak side starter Kendrick Dunn is second on the team in tackles (19) and first in sacks (2). Strong side starter Cory Evans has made 12 tackles and top backup Andy Mattingly has 13. What this group lacks in size and bulk, they make up for with smarts and instincts. However, they will struggle if their defensive line doesn't occupy blockers, allowing them to use their speed by chasing down plays from sideline to sideline.
Defensive Backs -- The secondary is probably the biggest weakness of the WSU defense. Only one starter returns from last season, senior FS Husain Abdullah, who's entering his 3rd year in the starting lineup. They are inexperienced at cornerback, as seen by true freshman Chima Nwachukwu (5-11, 189) starting on the right side and under-sized sophomore Devin Giles (6-0, 158) starting on the left. Furthermore, junior strong safety Alfonso Jackson stands at only (5-9, 204). The Cougars face a severe size disadvantage against the bigger, more physical Trojan wide-outs. The USC passing game hasn't been anything to fear thus far, but Booty has proven that he can tear defenses apart.
Still to come Friday:
(1) Key Matchups
(2) What to expect / Game-Plan
Thanks once again to College Football News...