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Friday, October 27th 2006

Preview: Oregon State

Short and sweet. Short and sweet. Such I will have to keep this as I prepare for school related events.

The Trojans are coming off a bye week, in which their previous competition (Nebraska, Washington, Washington State) for which they were questioned for “struggling” against (nevermind the Trojans have trailed 5 minutes ALL season), all performed well and proved their metle.

The Beavers are 4 – 3, including a win over Washington. They’re on a 2 game role.

Plus Their Mascot Is Fearsome

Oregon St. Offense v. USC Defense

Offense isn’t the Beaver’s strong suit. They did lose last year’s Biletnikof winner…a stunner for an Oregon State player to grab an award that prestigous (just kidding).

The Beavers have struggled all season to sustain drives and score touchdowns.

And even though QB Moore has had some success against the Trojans in trash time in the past (as a UCLA player), he has not played particularly well this year.

[I]t has been four years since Moore and the Trojans were on the same football field.

In 2002, when Moore was a true freshman at UCLA, the now-OSU senior appeared as a reserve at quarterback, completing 7-of-11 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Moore’s efforts did little to help, however. The Trojans rolled past the Bruins 55-21 en route to an 11-2 season that was capped by a victory over Iowa at the Orange Bowl.

Moore has been inconsistent at times. For instance he’s at 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions but in his last two games – against Arizona and Washington – the kid has completed over 72% of his passes.

With only one game over 200 yards it speaks to the Beavers reliance on the running game. And the Beavers are lucky it looks like there is a slim possibility the Beaver’s best offensive threat RB Yvenson Bernard might be ready to go from an injury,

“It’s going to be huge if Ev can’t play,” said Roy Schuening, the Beavers’ big right guard. “But Ev’s a fighter, and I’m definitely not counting him out.

“I would be kind of shocked if he didn’t play,” said Schuening. “He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. … personally, I think he’s going to be ready to play. He’d probably play with a broken leg if he could.”

QB Matt Moore was also convinced that by Saturday, the crutches will be laying around campus somewhere and No. 26 will be attacking the Trojans, trying to end USC’s 27-game Pac-10 winning streak.

“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met in my life,” said Moore. “He told me yesterday, ‘I’ll be fine.’ And I truly believe that.”

It would be huge. Even though the Beavers winning record isn’t built on their offense, Moore’s success passing is defintley predecated on establishing the run game first. Playing only a half Bernard netted better than a hundred yards against Arizona before getting injured. He was at a 144 against Washington a week before.

If Bernard (or his backup Polk) can get going early it gives the Beavers the best chance against the Trojans. It will open up the short-intermediate passing game which has plagued the Trojan’s secondary the past several weeks.

Sedrick Ellis shoudl continue to get back into the swing for the Trojans. But it is difficult to know if we’ll see any improvement in the secondary. Or any improvement in getting to the quarterback.

Certainly against Arizona State we saw more pressure coming from blitzes. A nice thing to finally see. The Trojans need to get to Moore, that would certainly help. More importantly however, but along the same lines of getting penetration is stopping the shifty Bernard in the backfield (if he sees significant time on the field come Saturday).

Bernard is a playmaker and if the Trojans have to keep eight men in the box and if the Beavers consistently get into second and medium situations, Moore and his junior recievers (including Sammie Stoughter who is far, far and away Moore’s favorite target) will be helped significantly.

USC Offense v. Oregon St. Defense

As Beaver blogger Building The Dam says,

Defense has been the strong point of our team this year. Most games, when the offense is having a bad day, the defense shows up to play. When the offense is having a good day, the defense still shows up to play. Our weakness is still pass coverage. We allowed Nate Longshore of Cal to throw for 341 yards and four touchdowns. As far as run defense goes, we’re having a good year, that is if you forget about the 240 yard, 5 touchdown performance Ian Johnson had against the Beavers in the Boise State game.

That is a big if (although Johnson has been having a monster year for Boise State). On any given day there are holes to find in the Oregon State defense. It is clear however looking at the stats that they’re more susceptible through the air.

That isn’t exactly the matchup the Trojans will probably end up wanting to exploit. Especially the way Chauncey Washington is coming around. He single handedly scored the game winning touchdown against Arizona State, running hard and often on that final drive.

As should be obvious from their run defense, the front seven is the strength of the Oregon State defense. Scout has this to say about the linebackers,

As good as the Beavers’ defensive line has been this season, the linebackers have played even better. Derrick Doggett and Alan Darlin are tied for the team lead in tackles, with 45 each. Doggett leads the team with nine tackles for loss, including three sacks. He’s also intercepted two passes, forced and recovered a fumble. Darlin ranks second on the team in both tackles for loss, with 8.5, and sacks, with four, to go along with two fumble recoveries.

These three linebackers will offer Chauncey Washington and the rest of the Trojan tailbacks an opportunity to prove themselves against some solid competition. While the front seven of the Beavers probably doesn’t stack up with Nebraska’s defensive front, playing at Reser Stadium may go toward evening that up.

QB Booty continues to stare down recievers, but interceptions aren’t the Beavers specialty. They will get pressure of the Trojan offensive line doesn’t come to play, especially that right side including Chilo and Kyle Williams.

As well, I no longer question Kiffin’s failure to call deep balls having seen Booty miss on some. That will come with time. With the way the running game is developing that can wait.

Hopefully the offensive line continues its development off that Arizona State game. The entire running game isn’t without some controversy. Clearly Moody has some “fumblitis” issues left. He wasn’t happy with the lack of trust from the coaches to him last week after he fumbled,

The elusive freshman had carried the ball on about half of USC’s running plays in the previous three weeks, but he had to watch most of the ASU game from the bench. He had just five carries after the fumble.

“They just really felt like the fumble kind of shook me up, and I wasn’t really focused after that, so they just reduced my carries,” Moody said. “Of course, it bothers me. It bothers any running back to get fewer carries.”

That one mistake could slow down what appeared to be a fast-rising college career. Moody rushed for 130 yards against Arizona three weeks earlier, but he watched from the sideline as Chauncey Washington pounded the ball a season-high 22 times against Arizona State.

“I wasn’t really shaken up. They just thought I was shaken up by the look I had in my face,” Moody said.

“I’m just going to keep on doing what I do, just play my game and really not worry about it. That’s in the past. I’m going to look toward the future.”

It’s been a rough stretch for Moody. He had a bandage over his left eye from where defensive end Brian Cushing inadvertently slugged him during practice.

Carroll said USC was simply riding the hot hand when it kept feeding Washington the ball.

“It was all about Chauncey. That was the right thing to do at the time the way he was going,” Carroll said. “You like going with the big guy; you like the experience and all that.”

Washington is getting healthy and will continue to get the brunt of the carriers. But even after Arizona State I think Moody will continue to play the speed back role. We’ll see.

Other Stuff

This could be a slugfest with both teams trying to establish the run.

I have no doubt Mike Riley will let Moore take some shots down field with the shaky play of the young Trojans secondary at time. Especially if QB Moore is getting protection early. But don’t expect a whole lot of bullets early (or often). He’ll take his shots at oppurtune times.

I’m of the opinion that Washington will have a monster game. If Bernard can’t play then this game could get out of hand and the Trojans could finally have a “break out.”

The Beaver offensive line is a fine unit, but if Holt continues his trend of pressure Moore can be gotten to. This especially if the Beavers are without the shifty running of Bernard and are able to hold up the more “downhill” Polk and force Moore to throw more than he would like.

With pressure the Trojan secondary will do its job. As such, it would be good for the Trojans to see Moore throw the ball 35+ times.

I don’t know we will see an Ian Johnson remix, but expect Chauncey to be effect and Moody to be very complimentary (and hopefully hold onto the ball).

If you thought we relied on the run game in previous games, this one, especially in the beginning will be even more like that.

We lead the entire game and open it up more in the second half. It’s enough of a trouncing that Sanchez gets his turn in the fourth quarter even.

Trojans 38 – Beaver 10

[Coach Carroll Press Conference]
[Tucson Citizen: Young Trojans To Get Better]
[Joe Jares: Second Half Team]
[CFN Week 9 Predictions]