Follow us:

Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 17, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Five keys to the game

A popular question I got during the live chat today that is hard to do justice in that form is to list the keys to the USC game.
So I’ll do that here:
1, Contain the run and force whichever young USC QB is playing to throw. Sounds cliche and it’s always a given you need to stop the run as best you can. But given the uncertainty over USC’ QB situation, it would seem especially critical in this one. It’s the first thing UW coaches have mentioned this week and it seems logical it would be the first thing USC will try is to run on the Huskies to take some pressure off whoever is QB — but especially if it’s Aaron Corp, who would be making his first start — and given the apparent advantage the Trojans’ veteran O-line would have against the Huskies. And even in the healthiest of times, USC’s offense is predicated on the run setting up the pass, using ample doses of play-action.
2, Don’t turn the ball over. Again, an obvious one. But where I’ll branch off on this one is that I think it’s almost more important for UW not to turn the ball over — something it has more control of — than to force turnovers — something that’s a little more left to chance. Turnovers were the biggest reason UW stayed in the game in 2007 against USC at Husky Stadium, scoring on drives of 14 and nine yards following a turnover and a blocked punt and also running back an interception for a touchdown. You wouldn’t think UW could stay close losing the turnover battle.
3, Let Jake run. It’s not going to be easy for UW to establish a traditional running game against the Trojans, who held Ohio State to 88 yards on 30 carries. The X-factor there is Locker, who didn’t run much against Idaho as they were surely trying to save the wear and tear on his body in anticipation of this game. Locker rushed for the only two offensive TDs UW scored in 2007 and his feet remain the hardest element opponents have to defend.
4, Score early. When USC has lost the last few years, it’s generally been to a team that gets some momentum early and stays in the game long enough to either hold on or pull it out late. Oregon State led 21-0 last year, for instance, and Oregon never trailed in its win over the Trojans in 2007. And UW’s offense has been at its best in the early going of games this season, especially those crisp first drives when the Huskies have seemed especially comfortable with the scripted first 15 plays.
5, Win the field position battle. USC’s biggest weakness so far has been its punting game — Billy O’Malley is averaging just 36 yards per kick and there are rumblings of the job being open for competition down the road. Will Mahan is averaging 44.8 yards per kick for the Huskies, a difference that could prove vital. Conversely, UW is last in kickoff returns and ninth in kickoff coverage, two areas it needs to clean up beginning Saturday.
Feel free to disagree or add your own keys to the game in the comments section.



No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►