Friday, October 5, 2007

Game #5 Stanford, Key Matchups / Predictions

Five Key Matchups to watch out for tomorrow:
USC CB Mozique McCurtis gets the start tomorrow in place of the injured Shareece Wright

USC CB Mozique McCurtis vs. Stanford's WR Corps
McCurtis has been battling injuries and replaces Shareece Wright, who's replacing Cary Harris and Josh Pinkard, in the starting lineup. I don't think Stanford will go after Terrell Thomas much, but expect them to test McCurtis early and often with the 6-7 Evan Moore on fade patterns, and with short passes to the speedy Mark Bradford and Richard Sherman. USC plays a lot of soft zone coverages, so it's important to tackle and prevent yards after the catch (YAC). McCurtis played well against Washington last week and has always been a tough, reliable defender so I expect him to rise to the occasion tomorrow.

USC DE Kyle Moore vs. Stanford LT Ben Muth
Moore has been a pleasant surprise this season. If he can continue to pressure the QB off the edge, it'll free up Sedrick Ellis up the middle and LoJack on the opposite side. Moore needs to get to Stanford's young QB early and rattle him, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh will probably call a bunch of roll outs and bootlegs to get Pritchard on the move giving him a pass-run option. Pritchard is said to be very athletic, so it will also be important for Moore and Jackson to play with discipline and keep the QB in the pocket.

USC Running Backs
vs. Stanford MLB Nick Macaluso
Macaluso has registered only 5 tackles in the 3 games that he's played in. When Chauncey Washington, Joe McKnight, Desmond Reed, Allen Bradford, Hershel Dennis or whoever it is that gets meaningful carries is in the game, they need to punish Macaluso. USC's offensive line is almost certain to open up holes like this against Stanford's porous defensive line, so Macaluso better buckle up his chin strap and get ready to make some tackles.

USC TE Fred Davis
vs. Stanford SS Austin Yancy
Davis, a blue-chip WR in high school, has become QB John David Booty's favorite and most reliable target. Davis is making the most of his catches, whether it be picking key first downs, stiff-arming would-be tacklers, or hurdling defenders after a long catch and run. Yancy (6-4, 215) definitely has the size to match up with Davis, but like Davis, is also a former WR. Does he have the experience and toughness to contain a player like Davis?

USC FB Stanley Havili vs. Stanford SLB Pat Maynor
Booty has struggled to get the ball to his WR's this season, but Havili and Davis have been great outlets. USC likes to roll out Booty on play-action and dump it to Havili in the flats. Stanford's defense will have to choose whether to honor the run or prevent Havili and Davis from having a big day in the passing game. Booty tends to lock on to his targets, so if Maynor can anticipate a route he might be able to jump on it and make a big play.

Saturday's Expectations:
Offensively, the Trojans can run the ball at will against Stanford, but with C.J. Gable out for the season and Stafon Johnson being banged up, I think they'll monitor Chauncey's carries and let Booty air it out early on. It will be nice to see offensive coordinator open up the playbook and get the WR's involved. Once they establish a big lead, it'll be time to control the clock and see what McKnight, Bradford, and Dennis can do. Expect another big day from Davis and Havili.

Defensively, USC will probably try to confuse QB Tavita Pritchard, who will be making his first career start on Saturday. Look for Carroll to show blitz before the snap by creeping up the linebackers and disguise the coverages, only the switch to a totally different look at the snap of the ball. The crowd noise, coupled with Pritchard's inexperience will make it difficult for Stanford to change plays at the line of scrimmage. It won't take long for USC's front four to pressure Pritchard and force an early turnover, opening up the flood gates. USC has been hit hard by the injury bug this season so I'm sure Carroll's #1 objective for tomorrow will be to end this game quickly and to emerge from it relatively unscathed and as healthy as possible. USC is losing respect in the polls though, so style points definitely count...Prediction: USC 45, Stanford 6

Other Predictions:
Joey -- USC uses Stanford as a "healing" game, just like they did last year. Beware of more sloppy play from Booty with all the injuries. The defense rolls as usual. USC 42 Stanford 13

RG3 -- USC's stagnant offense wakes up and will send chills down the spines of all the haters out there. Booty regains some lost ground in the Heisman race and Chauncey Washington rushes for 200 yards... at the half... USC 49 Stanford 3.

PCBestever -- Allen Bradford destroys at least three people blocking, rushing, and on special teams on his way to a three touchdown performance. 'SC needs only one half to make a statement and then we'll get to see the Dirty Sanchez in the game...USC 52, Stanford 14

Fight On! Beat the Farm!!


Eric said...

Oh Joey, I guess you win the pool, you were closest in your prediction!

Joey said...

Yes, I was.

This will be a "healing" game since I'm sure many people lost their jobs over this and I assume we will field an entirely different team next week.

I was right about Booty struggling. he did that and more. 4 picks? Is anyone really surprised?