Game #9 : November 8 vs. USC, 5:00 PM (televised on ABC).
TwistNHook: Oy, I'm schvitzing like a chazzer here thinking about this game. I need more Manischewitz.
Guys, is there any reason I should stop drinking? I would totes plotz if that were the case. But when it comes to USC. In LA. Well, I don't always have high hopes for the team.
HydroTech: Okay, I think most fans know that Southern Cal is loaded pretty much everywhere. They have talent everywhere. I think their only weakness, if it can even be considered a weakness, is their OL. They only return one starter on their OL and that is senior LG Jeff Byers. As for the other four positions, while the starting lineup certainly isn't set in stone, it appears as if the majority of the other Southern Cal OL starters will be sophomores and juniors. While those players are not returning starters with tons of career starts, they all have game experience from filling in for injured starters and garbage time. So as highly touted and talented as Southern Cal's OL players may be, perhaps they'll suffer some growing pains with their young players.
Yellow Fever: It would appear that the only real question about the Trojans is how effective the passing game will be. It wasn't been as explosive as it was during the Leinart/Palmer days, but those were heady days indeed and not a standard that could be reasonably expected to be sustained year after year. And then there's Joe McKnight, who suffered a hyperextended elbow, although that's not expected to keep him out of any regular season action.
I don't have high hopes for our Bears against the Trojans, but if no wide receivers step up, if Mark Sanchez doesn't take over seamlessly for Booty, and if Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight get into a car accident...maybe our Bears will lose by less than two touchdowns.
TwistNHook: I guess it kind of depends on how bad this car accident really is.
A lot has been made about the injuries to McKnight and Sanchez. But there have also been some other injuries for the USC in bad positions (for them, not for the rest of humanity). Everybody knows Rey Maualuga as the stud MLB. But they've had some key injuries to his backups in that position, which has thinned depth.
Yes, depth could be bad at the linebacker position.
I guess when it comes to USC, we look for any reason for hope. Any.
HydroTech: Hey, what do you know? Running back C.J. Gable is injured. Unfortunately, if Gable isn't able to make it back in time for the start of the season, Southern Cal will be forced to dig into their stable of blue chip 5-star recruits. Oh the horror.
Pete Carroll watches practice. - Image via mythicmktg.fileburst.com
On the bright side, Joe McKnight is back on the field as is Sanchez. I wonder who most Southern Cal fans want to see as their starting QB regardless of who is the starter.
TwistNHook: I have this bad feeling that Patrick Turner is going to rape us out there. That guy is huge. All of their WRs are over 6 feet and 200 pounds. Last year they had some inconsistency at WR (probably due to some of the troubles with Booty, at times). And maybe with a new QB (and a potentially injured one, at that), that inconsistency will carry over. But I mean c'mon, these guys are what our WRs can aspire to be.
Really, the weakness on this team is QB. And that isn't as much weakness as uncertainty. We all know they have talent, but with the 3rd QB in as many years, will they be able to gel?
Many USC football players look up to Sanchez and his veteran leadership. - Image via thegreenskin.com
Their D is going to be siiiiiiiiiiick. Here is an article from the Four Letter on their stud safety, Taylor Mays:
Firstly, listen to what he says about the O:
"I don't think anybody really impresses me on our offense, but the offense is going to be alright. They've got a lot of athletes and a lot of great players, too. But I'm not going to give them any pub because we're a defensive football team."
That might not win him too many friends on the offense, but anyway, it doesn't matter. Read this:
Mays ran the Trojans fastest 40 time during the off-season: 4.25.
And he weighs 235 pounds.
On a team like USC Taylor Mays is just ANOTHER great player. I want more than anything for us to beat USC. I hate USC. USC fans fill me with a burning desire to run them over and then hit reverse and give them another solid whacking. But for the love of everything holy, this team is too good. We have to be reasonable here.
CBKWit: I for one am not afraid of Turner. He has been inconsistent and has generally not lived up to the massive hype he had coming out of high school (when he was ranked higher than DeSean). Plus, I feel better about our defense backfield than I have in a while (maybe 2006 pre Mixon injury), and the recent recruiting emphasis has been on TALL Dbs (Darian Hagan - 6'1; Kamaron Yancy - 6'0; Sean Cattouse - 6'2; Bryant Nnabuife - 6'1; Chris Conte - 6'3).
And I'll have to disagree on Mays too. Not that he isn't great. He's spectacular. But I disagree that he's just ANOTHER player. Sure, usc has a number of great players on their defense (Fili Moala, Everson Griffen, and Rey Maualuga come to mind), but Mays' speed and size are incredible, even for usc.
Mays has started since he was a true freshman, a remarkable feat that's even more remarkable when you consider sc's depth. But he actually came in with another, almost equally touted safety, Antwine Perez. Perez transferred after Mays beat him out for the starting job and, in a bit of irony, we actually have to play both this year. Perez ended up at Maryland.
Overall, though, I have to agree with you, Twist. On paper, and I would bet on the field, this defense looks ridiculous.
ragnarok: We have to be reasonable? Why? USC has never brought anything reasonable out of me before. I hate them. So very much. I hate the colors (red and gold together? An abomination!), I hate the two songs their band knows, I hate their arrogance, and most of all, I hate that their football team is good enough to back it up. Having to go down to the LA Coliseum this year and listen to their band play 'Tribute to Troy' 50 bazillion times makes it that much worse. Even from those terrible visitor section seats they put us in, you can hardly see the action on the field, but you can damn sure hear the damn band.
Joe McKnight can be difficult to tackle. - Image via www.redicecreations.com
Honestly, though, I'm not sure a car accident would be enough. How about a bus breakdown on the way to the game? One with their entire defense on it. I think Cal would have a pretty good chance then.
TwistNHook: You hate red and gold together? Aren't you a Niners fan?
ragnarok: Not really, no. I'm actually not much of a pro football fan. The college game is way more interesting to me.
TwistNHook: Yo mama's face is way more interesting to me.
Yellow Fever: Twist, don't you have an ESPN USC preview article to be cribbing?
TwistNHook: *sigh* Oh, you guys!
CBKWit: I've hated sc since the 2004 (Aaron Rodgers) game in the coliseum. Whenever sc scored, the assholes sitting next to us would scream in our faces and flip us off. When we scored, they would quietly turn away and throw beer on us over their shoulders. But the topper was, after the 4th down pass was incomplete, they started the "o-ver-ra-ted" chant. Um, we outgained you 2 to 1. We had 1st and goal on your 9 yard line to win the game. You're the number 1 team in the country, at home. And we're over-rated? Idiots.
As an aside, one of the most misunderstood parts of that game was 1st and 9 defense by the usc defense. SC fans would have you believe that their defense made a miraculous stand to win. Actually, Cal should have scored twice in those four plays. On 1st down, the ball simply went through the hands of our most reliable receiver, Geoff MacArthur, in the end zone. On fourth down, Rodgers put the ball right on the money at the goal line to Jonathan Makonnen...who slipped. If he doesn't slip, touchdown. The only play that the sc defense really impacted was 2nd (3rd?) down, when Mike Patterson (who was a beast the entire game) blew up a shovel pass to Arrington and Rodgers was forced to eat the ball for a sack. Anyways, next time an sc fan brings up that goal line stand, feel free to remind them that it wasn't good play by the sc defense that won the game; it was Cal choking away two touchdowns. That should make you feel really good.
Actually, now that I think of it, I really started hating USC in 2002 (Kareem Kelly's phantom touchdown/no call PI on the last Cal Drive) game. Getting called a "fucking faggot" repeatedly by the richest and most prominent alums (50 yard line, field level, alumni side) will give you a bad impression of any school, I feel. I kind of expect that stuff from students, but if you're a 40 year old alum that can afford season tickets on the 50 yard line, maybe it's time to grow up.
USC fans can be overly enthusiastic about their team at times. - Image via i143.photobucket.com
TwistNHook: Was it last year that USC had injuries to its OLine so horrific that they were literally scanning the campus for large men to play backup? Have their managed to cure their depth problems at that position? All the 5 star recruits at RB and WR mean nothing if there aren't holes for them to run through and balls heading their way.
PS The 15 year old inside of me's head just exploded after writing that sentence.
PPS The 27 year old inside of me's head ALSO just exploded after writing that sentence.
Wait, Hydro answered that question above. I should really start reading his stuff instead of just glazing over it to see whatever witty anecdote TwistNHook wrote. That guy is so funny! Everytime I read one of his hilarious jokes I always wonder "Which 1990s sitcom did he steal this from now?"
Anyway, hmmm, predic(k)s. I have a bad feeling we aren't going to win this one. 8-2. Let's keep it close.
HydroTech: I 4 1, luv Southern Cal. Just luv em. Cal wins a tough one 101-1.
TwistNHook: That seems like an unrealistic amount of safeties for one team to score.
Yellow Fever: 2-3. Cal loses its first game of the season.
ragnarok: '$C 24, Cal 14. That's 8 straight losses in Los Angeles. :(