LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans conducts the band after the game with the UCLA Bruins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. USC won 50-0. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The folks over at Conquest Chronicles are kind enough to answer some questions regarding Saturday's game between the Hawaii Warriors and USC Trojans. We all know that USC is a huge favorite, so I went in the direction to get to know USC better and find out what weaknesses (if any) that Hawaii could possibly expose. The one area that is mentioned is a positive for Hawaii.
So, here are the questions I sent their way.
1. We all know USC is stacked on offense, and they have a great secondary. So what is their weakness that Hawaii could possibly expose?
Without a doubt, it has to be USC's defensive line. There were already a lot of questions coming into the season about the front four. It lost three starters in Nick Perry, who led the conference in sacks, DaJohn Harris and Christian Tupou. Before fall camp began, it lost another experienced returner for the year in senior defensive end Devon Kennard to a torn pectoral muscle.
It still has senior defensive end Wes Horton, but the only other player with starting experience is redshirt sophomore George Uko, who started just two games last season. Hawai'i no longer employs a run and shoot offense, but you can bet Norm Chow will try to control the tempo of the game with the running game and keep the front-seven off balance by changing the snap count. Lucky for USC, though, is the Rainbow Warriors' also have a young, inexperienced offensive front. A lot of things will have to go Hawai'i's way for them to try and keep it close, but if there's one area Hawai'i can try to attack the Trojans, it's their defensive line.
2. We know USC will win, but with depth being an issue do you see them pulling some starters late in the game if it is a blowout early.
I'm going to say that he leaves the starters in for the majority of the contest, even if the game is nowhere remotely close. The reason? So both the offense and defense can develop a little continuity and rhythm, plus work out any kinks. You can't simulate game experience in practice or in a scrimmage, so this is the only chance the Trojans have to fine tune some things before heading on the road for four of its next five contests.
3. How much do you think it helps Lane Kiffin being familiar with Norm Chow's system from being a coach together years ago at USC and then the offensive coordinator at Utah and UCLA.
I don't think it helps as much as people would like to make it out to be. As mentioned, both coaches are familiar not just working with each other but coaching against each other, and both are great offensive coordinators in their own right. It's interesting to note that as an opposing assistant coach, though, that Chow's teams have fared well against Kiffin. In 2009, the Bruins upended Tennessee in Kiffin's lone season in Knoxville. The following year, when Kiffin returned to USC, the Trojans won 28-14. And last year, while coaching on Utah's sidelines, the Utes were within a field goal of sending the game into overtime.
4. Out of all the hype USC has as being a BCS title contender, who is a player that will make an impact that not many people have heard of.
Anthony Sarao. The offense certainly receives and deserves the attention, but the Trojans' defense heading into the season was an underrated strength. Then Kennard was injured. Isiah Wiley was ruled academically ineligible. And Lamar Dawson battled a calf injury nearly all of fall camp.
USC still has Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey at the other two linebacker spots, now redshirt sophomores, who both tied for the team lead in tackles last year. But if Dawson's injury persists, Sarao will likely step in at weakside linebacker with Pullard moving to the middle. And in a conference that just welcomed Mike Leach (Washington State) and Rich Rodriguez
(Arizona), plus already having offensive mastermind Chip Kelley (Oregon), the linebacker position will arguably be one of the most important positions for the Trojans. Sarao, who redshirted last season, will be coming into this year much like Pullard, Bailey and Dawson did a year ago --- with no experience. But Sarao will likely need to step up to give the starters rest against some of the most up-tempo offenses in the nation now residing in the conference.
5. Do you really think USC is capable of covering the enormous 40-point spread?
USC is certainly capable of covering the 40-point spread - and, in fact, I think they will. Of course everybody knows how potent the Trojans' offense is and the Rainbow Warriors will certainly have their hands full. It's not a matter of how many points Hawai'i will give up, it's whether or not they can slow down USC's offense just enough to have a fighting chance of keeping it within the spread. Interesting stat: The Trojans have put up at least 60 points in three of its last four contests against the Rainbow Warriors. On Saturday, I see USC lighting up the scoreboard, again.
There you have it with some great info about Saturday's game, so once again go check out Conquest Chronicles for more on USC football. Hoping they are wrong about USC covering.
For more Mountain West Connection Follow @JeremyMauss