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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 6, 2006 at 5:31 PM

The pick – USC

Sorry, can’t do it. Exciting as it would surely be to see UW make some history and break the longest home winning streak in Pac-10 history, I just don’t see it happening.
In fact, as I was perusing the stats and rosters today in putting together the preview package for Saturday’s paper, I found it hard to give a checkmark in UW’s direction at any direction.
I finally gave UW one — at quarterback — though even that could be debatable. Few doubt that John David Booty is a likely high-round NFL draft pick and he’s put up solid numbers. His ratio of 10 TDs to two interceptions is the best in the conference as is his completion percentage of 67.6. I gave the nod to Stanback because of his versatility and his greater value to the Huskies.
But everywhere else? Tell me if you think I’m really off base.
Running back? USC’s Emmanuel Moody is a prep All-American averaging 7.3 yards per carry against what are probably better overall defenses than Washington has faced. And Chauncey Washington isn’t bad (4.4 yards per carry). Meanwhile, here are the numbers for Kenny James and Louis Rankin the last three games — James 30 carries for 73 yards, Rankin 30 for 83.
Receiver? Okay, UW has had some players step up with some nice performances while USC is injury riddled here. Still, Steve Smith’s game at WSU last Saturday (11 for 186) is better than anything any UW player has ever done. Patrick Turner is dangerous and Dwayne Jarrett might play. And then there’s true freshmen Travon Patterson and Vidal Hazelton, each with all-world potential. Jarrett’s status is the real wild card here. With him, this is slam dunk for USC. Without, it’s close. But since he could play, USC gets the nodd here.
Offensive line? USC’s banged up here, as well. Still, the Trojans will roll out guys who are unquestionably healthy such as center Ryan Kalil and left tackle Sam Baker who each might be the best in their conference at their position. I think UW’s defensive line has a real chance to stand up to these guys, especially against the run, but when judging just one OL against the other, I think USC’s is still better.
Defensive line? DE Lawrence Jackson is an All-American candidate coming off a subpar game against WSU — never a good sign for the next team — and the Trojans are due to get back DT Sedric Ellis after missing three weeks. It’s noteworthy that USC has just seven sacks while UW now has 12. Each team, however, has just four sacks from its D-line, and UW has played one more game. USC’s run defense numbers are also better (2.8 yards per carry to UW’s 3.3), which ultimately made me give the edge to USC here.
Linebackers? Well as Scott White has been playing lately, the best LB on the field Saturday will be USC’s Rey Maualuga. Keith Rivers and Brian Cushing are also solid and this, I feel, is USC’s biggest position edge on defense.
Secondary? USC has had some injuries back there and it will be real interesting to see how UW tries to test Taylor Mays Saturday — you know they’ll want to. Still, just look at the numbers — USC has allowed just two passing touchdowns and 189.2 yards per game while UW has allowed seven passing touchdowns and 235.6 yards per game.
The return of Dashon Goldson helps a lot, but I still think USC is better here.
Special teams? USC’s numbers are better in almost category — they lead the Pac-10 in kickoff coverage, its net punting is almost three yards better per punt than UW’s, and Husky PK Michael Braunstein is just 2-4 this year and not seeming to inspire a lot of confidence in his coaches.
So I added all that and came up with USC 31, UW 13.
I see it being similar to the OU game with UW staying in it for a while before a big play or two for the home team turns it the other way, though maybe this time the Huskies stay in it for even a little longer.
— One quick news note. The Huskies had planned to walk-through at the Coliseum this afternoon, though Willingham termed it a “look-around” saying it was more just to go there and get acclimated to the logistics of the place. But some delays at LAX — hard to believe that, huh? — threw the schedule off balance and the team instead headed straight to its hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Everything else, I was told by a team spokesman, is status quo for tomorrow in terms of the roster and personnel, etc.

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